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Tunneling and Conformational Flexibility Play Critical Roles in the Isomerization Mechanism of Vitamin D

Meana-Pañeda, Rubén, Fernández-Ramos, Antonio
Journal of the American Chemical Society 2012 v.134 no.1 pp. 346-354
energy, gases, hexane, hydrogen, isomerization, isotopes, models, stereochemistry, vitamin D
The thermal isomerization reaction converting previtamin D to vitamin D is an intramolecular [1,7]-sigmatropic hydrogen shift with antarafacial stereochemistry. We have studied the dynamics of this reaction by means of the variational transition-state theory with multidimensional corrections for tunneling in both gas-phase and n-hexane environments. Two issues that may have important effects on the dynamics were analyzed in depth, i.e., the conformations of previtamin D and the quantum effects associated with the hydrogen-transfer reaction. Of the large number of conformers of previtamin D that were located, there are 16 that have the right disposition to react. The transition-state structures associated with these reaction paths are very close in energy, so all of them should be taken into account for an accurate calculation of both the thermal rate constants and the kinetic isotope effects. This issue is particularly important because the contribution of each of the reaction paths to the total thermal rate constant is quite sensitive to the environment. The dynamics results confirm that tunneling plays an important role and that model systems that were considered previously to study the hydrogen shift reaction cannot mimic the complexity introduced by the flexibility of the rings of previtamin D. Finally, the characterization of the conformers of both previtamin D and vitamin D allowed the calculation of the thermal equilibrium constants of the isomerization process.