Controlling stereoselectivity by enzymatic and chemical means to access enantiomerically pure (1S,3R)-1-benzyl-2,3-dimethyl-1,2,3,4-tetrahydroisoquinoline derivatives

Orden, A.A.; Schrittwieser, J.H.; Resch, V.; Mutti, F.G.; Kroutil, W.;

Tetrahedron: Asymmetry, 2013, 24, 744-749. DOI: 10.1016/j.tetasy.2013.05.003


A chemoenzymatic strategy for the synthesis of enantiomerically pure novel alkaloids (1S,3R)-1-benzyl-2,3-dimethyl-1,2,3,4-tetrahydroisoquinolines is presented. The key steps are the biocatalytic stereoselective reductive amination of substituted 1-phenylpropan-2-one derivatives to yield chiral amines employing microbial ω-transaminases, and the diastereoselective reduction of a Bischler–Napieralski imine intermediate by catalytic hydrogenation in the presence of palladium on charcoal, leading exclusively to the desired cis-isomer.