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Dakin-West reaction

The Dakin-West reaction is a chemical reaction that transforms an amino-acid into an amino-ketone using a acid anhydride and a base, typically pyridine.[1][2][3] It is named for Henry Drysdale Dakin (1880–1952) and Randolph West (1890–1949). Of special note, the amino-ketone product is always racemic.

With pyridine as a base and solvent, refluxing conditions are required.[4] However, with the addition of 4-dimethylaminopyridine (DMAP) as a catalyst, the reaction can take place at room temperature.[5]

With some acids, this reaction can take place even in the absence of an α-amino group.

This reaction should not be confused with the Dakin reaction.

Reaction mechanism

The reaction mechanism involves the acylation and activation of the acid 1 to the mixed anhydride 3. The amide will serve as a nucleophile for the cyclization forming the azlactone 4. Deprotonation and acylation of the azlactone forms the key carbon-carbon bond. Subsequent ring-opening of 6 and decarboxylation give the final amino-ketone product.[6][7]


  1. ^  (a) Dakin, H. D.; West, R. J. Biol. Chem. 1928, 78, 91. (b) Dakin, H. D.; West, R. J. Biol. Chem. 1928, 78, 745. (c) Dakin, H. D.; West, R. J. Biol. Chem. 1928, 78, 757.
  2. ^  Wiley, R. H. J. Org. Chem. 1947, 12, 43-46. (doi:10.1021/jo01165a006)
  3. ^  Buchanan, G. L. Chem. Soc. Rev. 1988, 17, 91-109. (Review)
  4. ^  Wiley, R. H.; Borum, O. H. Organic Syntheses, Coll. Vol. 4, p.5 (1963); Vol. 33, p.1 (1953). (Article)
  5. ^  Hoefle, G.; Steglich, W.; Vorbrueggen, H. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl. 1978, 17, 569.
  6. ^  Knorr, R.; Huisgen, R. Ber. 1970, 103, 2598.
  7. ^  Allinger, N. et al. J. Org. Chem. 1974, 39, 1730. (doi:10.1021/jo00925a029)
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Dakin-West_reaction". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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