Six chiral hydroxylated pyrrolidine catalysts were synthesized from commercially available D-arabinose in seven steps. Various aromatic substituents α to the amine can be introduced readily by a Grignard reaction, which enables facile optimization of the catalyst performance. The stereoselectivities of these catalysts have been assessed by comparing with those of MacMillan's imidazolidinone in a known intramolecular Diels-Alder (IMDA) reaction of a triene. Two additional IMDA reactions of symmetrical dienals with concomitant desymmetrisation further established the potential use of these novel amine catalysts. These pyrrolidines are valuable catalysts for other synthetic transformations.
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