Intramolecular Hydrogen-Bond Interactions Tune Reactivity in Biomimetic Bis(μ-hydroxo)dicobalt Complexes

Alyssa A. Delucia, Kimberly A. Kelly, Kevin A. Herrera, Danielle L. Gray, Lisa Olshansky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Active site hydrogen-bond (H-bond) networks represent a key component by which metalloenzymes control the formation and deployment of high-valent transition metal-oxo intermediates. We report a series of dinuclear cobalt complexes that serve as structural models for the nonheme diiron enzyme family and feature a Co2(μ-OH)2 diamond core stabilized by intramolecular H-bond interactions. We define the conditions required for the kinetically controlled synthesis of these complexes: [Co2(μ-OH)2(μ-OAc)(κ1-OAc)2(pyR)4][PF6] (1R), where OAc = acetate and pyR = pyridine with para-substituent R, and we describe a homologous series of 1R in which the para-R substituent on pyridine is modulated. The solid state X-ray diffraction (XRD) structures of 1R are similar across the series, but in solution, their 1H NMR spectra reveal a linear free energy relationship (LFER) where, as R becomes increasingly electron-withdrawing, the intramolecular H-bond interaction between bridging μ-OH and κ1-acetate ligands results in increasingly "oxo-like"μ-OH bridges. Deprotonation of the bridging μ-OH results in the quantitative conversion to corresponding cubane complexes: [Co4(μ-O)4(μ3-OAc)4(pyR)4] (2R), which represent the thermodynamic sink of self-assembly. These reactions are unusually slow for rate-limiting deprotonation events, but rapid-mixing experiments reveal a 6000-fold rate acceleration on going from R = OMe to R = CN. These results suggest that we can tune reactivity by modulating the μ-OH pKa in the presence of intramolecular H-bond interactions to maintain stability as the octahedral d6 centers become increasingly acidic. Nature may similarly employ dynamic carboxylate-mediated H-bond interactions to control the reactivity of acidic transition metal-oxo intermediates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15599-15609
Number of pages11
JournalInorganic Chemistry
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 18 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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