What is it about?

Several prochiral NCN-pincer complexes of palladium(II), with hemilabile ligands and a long aliphatic chain, were synthesized and characterized spectroscopically. In some of the complexes, the presence of two different substituents on the N donor atoms made them stereogenic, so that they were isolated as a mixture of diastereoisomers, which could be differentiated by 1H NMR spectroscopy. Binding of some of these complexes to bovine -lactoglobin by insertion within its inner cavity was theoretically investigated by molecular-docking simulation and was experimentally confirmed by CD spectroscopy. Adjunction of H-bond donor substituents on the ligand framework gave more-stable supramolecular protein–complex assemblies. These constructs were shown to catalyze aldol condensation reactions in aqueous media, affording, in some cases, the less-favorable cis product. Since the corresponding complexes exclusively gave the trans product in the absence of -lactoglobulin, this unusual diastereoselectivity was ensued by the second sphere of coordination brought by the protein host.

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Why is it important?

This paper has been highlighted as VIP by the editor. We demonstrate that hemilabile ligands around a metal could adapt to the protein host and then influence the stereochemical outcome of a metal-catalyzed reaction.


We are currently adapting this approach to other metal-catalyzed reactions in which enantioselectivity is controlled in an efficient manner.

Professor Serge THORIMBERT
Sorbonne Université

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This page is a summary of: Supramolecular Anchoring of NCN-Pincer Palladium Complexes into a β-Barrel Protein Host: Molecular-Docking and Reactivity Insights, European Journal of Inorganic Chemistry, July 2017, Wiley, DOI: 10.1002/ejic.201700365.
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