Alternatively, we can transform an alcohol group into sulfonic ester using para-toluene sulfonyl chloride (Ts-Cl) or methanesulfonyl chloride (Ms-Cl), creating what is termed an organic tosylate or mesylate:
Again, you’ll have a chance to work a mechanism for tosylate and mesylate formation in the chapter 12 problems. Notice, though, that unlike the halogenation reactions above, conversion of an alcohol to a tosylate or mesylate proceeds with retention of configuration at the electrophilic carbon.
Chlorides, bromides, and tosylate / mesylate groups are excellent leaving groups in nucleophilic substitution reactions, due to resonance delocalization of the developing negative charge on the leaving oxygen.
The laboratory synthesis of isopentenyl diphosphate - the 'building block' molecule used by nature for the construction of isoprenoid molecules such as cholesterol and b-carotene - was accomplished by first converting the alcohol into an organic tosylate (step 1), then displacing the tosylate group with an inorganic pyrophosphate nucleophile (step 2) (J. Org. Chem 1986, 51, 4768).
Exercise 8.14: Predict the structures of A and B in the following reaction:
- Layne A. Morsch (University of Illinois Springfield)