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Remarkable Reactivity Differences between Glucosides with Identical Leaving Groups

Duo, Tianmeng, Robinson, Kyle, Greig, Ian R., Chen, Hong-Ming, Patrick, Brian O., Withers, Stephen G.
Journal of the American Chemical Society 2017 v.139 no.44 pp. 15994-15999
Lewis bases, beta-glucosidase, crystal structure, glucosides, hydrolysis, stable isotopes
Two isomeric aryl 2-deoxy-2-fluoro-β-glucosides react with a β-glucosidase at rates differing by 10⁶-fold, despite the fact that they release the same aromatic aglycone. In contrast, the equivalent glucoside substrates react with essentially identical rate constants. Insight into the source of these surprising rate differences was obtained through a comprehensive study of the nonenzymatic (spontaneous) hydrolysis of these same substrates, wherein an approximate 10⁵-fold difference in rates was measured, clarifying that the differences were inherent rather than being due to specific interactions with the enzyme. The possibility that an alternate nucleophilic aryl substitution mechanism was responsible for the rapid reaction of the faster substrate was excluded through ¹⁸O-labeling studies. Further exploration of the origins of these rate differences involved analysis of X-ray crystal structures as well as quantum chemical calculations, which surprisingly revealed that ground state destabilization and transition state stabilizing effects contribute almost equally to the observed reactivity differences. These studies highlight the dangers of using simple reference equilibria such as pKₐ values as measures of leaving group ability.