Boger, D., Svatunek, D., Wu, Z.-C., & Houk, K. N. (2022). Mechanistic Insights into the Reaction of Amidines with 1,2,3-Triazines and 1,2,3,5-Tetrazines. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 144(24), 10921–10928. https://doi.org/10.1021/jacs.2c03726
1,2,3-Triazines and 1,2,3,5-tetrazines react rapidly, efficiently, and selectively with amidines to form pyrimidines/1,3,5-triazines, exhibiting an orthogonal reactivity with 1,2,4,5-tetrazine-based conjugation chemistry. Whereas the mechanism of the reaction of the isomeric 1,2,4-triazines and 1,2,4,5-tetrazines with alkenes is well understood, the mechanism of the 1,2,3-triazine/1,2,3,5-tetrazine-amidine reaction as well as its intrinsic reactivity remains underexplored. By using 15N-labeling, kinetic investigations, and kinetic isotope effect studies, complemented by extensive computational investigations, we show that this reaction proceeds through an addition/N2 elimination/cyclization pathway, rather than the generally expected concerted or stepwise Diels-Alder/retro Diels-Alder sequence. The rate-limiting step in this transformation is the initial nucleophilic attack of an amidine on azine C4, with a subsequent energetically favored N2 elimination step compared with a disfavored stepwise formation of a Diels-Alder cycloadduct. The proposed reaction mechanism is in agreement with experimental and computational results, which explains the observed reactivity of 1,2,3-triazines and 1,2,3,5-tetrazines with amidines.