Interactions of 2-, 3- and 4-formyl phenylboronic acids (FPBAs) with sugars, amino sugars, aminoglycosides and various poly- and monoamines have been studied by UV-vis, 1H and 11B NMR titrations in water at variable pH. Behavior of 2-FPBA was anomalous in several aspects. Transformation of the acid into its conjugate base was slow in NMR time scale and was accompanied by intramolecular cyclization affording the respective benzoboroxole. The equilibrium constants for imine formation (Kimine) between 2-FPBA and simple monoamines including amino sugars were ca. 2 orders of magnitude larger than those with other isomers. Still one order of magnitude larger Kimine values were observed for 2-FPBA with aminoglycosides (kanamycin, amikacin, gentamicin, neomycin) and polyamines (spermine, spermidine). The examination of UV-vis and 11B NMR spectra of imines formed with 2-FPBA showed that formally neutral Schiff bases in fact were zwitterionic species containing a protonated imine group and an anionic B(OH)3− group. The enhanced stability of imines with monoamines can therefore be attributed to the electrostatic stabilization provided by the zwitterionic structure and further increased stability of imines with antibiotics and polyamines is explicable by additional stabilization of the borate anionic group by ion paring with ammonium groups not involved in Schiff base formation. Thanks to high molar absorptivity of protonated imines interaction of 2-FPBA with aminoglycosides allows detecting them spectrophotometrically in a μM concentration range in neutral aqueous solutions in the presence of sugars, amino sugars and amino acids.
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