Reactions of the Ionised Enol Tautomer of Acetanilide: Elimination of HNCO via a Novel Rearrangement
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The reactions of ionised acetanilide, C(6)H(5)NH(=O)CH(3)(.+), and its enol, C(6)H(5)NH(OH)=CH(2)(.+), have been studied by a combination of tandem mass spectrometric and computational methods. These two isomeric radical cations have distinct chemistries at low internal energies. The keto tautomer eliminates exclusively CH(2)=C=O to give ionised aniline. In contrast, the enol tautomer loses H-N=C=O, via an unusual skeletal rearrangement, to form predominantly ionised methylene cyclohexadiene. Hydrogen atom loss also occurs from the enol tautomer, with the formation of protonated oxindole. The mechanisms for H-N=C=O and hydrogen atom loss both involve cyclisation; the former proceeds via a spiro transition state formed by attachment of the methylene group to the ipso position, whereas the latter entails the formation of a five-membered ring by attachment to the ortho position. The behaviour of labelled analogues reveals that these two processes have different site selectivities. Hydrogen atom loss involves a reverse critical energy and is subject to an isotope effect. Surprisingly, attempts to promote the enolisation of ionised acetanilide by proton-transport catalysis were unsuccessful. In a reversal of the usual situation for ionised carbonyl compounds, ionised acetanilide is actually more stable than its enol tautomer. The enol tautomer was resistant to proton-transport catalysed ketonisation to ionised acetanilide, possibly because the favoured geometry of the encounter complex with the base molecule is inappropriate for facilitating tautomerisation.
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