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Abstract

In order to investigate the stereospecificity of enzyme-catalyzed reactions, an optically active copolymer of 4(5)-vinylimidazole and 2,5(S)-dimethyl-1-hepten-3-one was synthesized, and its effects on the solvolytic rates, in ethanol-water, of the p-nitrophenyl and 4-carboxy-2-nitrophenyl esters of 3(R)- and 3(S)-methylpentanoic acid and of the commercially available N-carbobenzoxy-(R)- and (S)-phenylalanine p-nitrophenyl esters were investigated. The optically active comonomer was prepared by thermal decomposition of solid (+)-1-piperidino-2,5(S)-dimethylheptan-3-one hydrochloride, which was obtained from the reaction of 2(S)-methylbutyllithium with 3-piperidino-2-methylpropionitrile. The 3(R)-methylpentanoic acid was prepared in 92% optical purity from L-alloisoleucine via diazotization in concentrated hydrobromic acid and subsequent reductive debromination with zinc amalgam in dilute hydrochloric acid. In the optically active copolymer-catalyzed solvolyses of the optically active esters performed at pH values of 6–8 no significant differences between the solvolytic rates of (R) and (S) isomers of substrates were observed. Poly-L-histidine was also employed as a catalyst for the solvolyses of these substrates. At pH 6.0 in ethanol–water the latter catalyst also failed to exhibit specificity towards (R) and (S) substrates.