Nat Commun. 2022 Nov 18;13(1):7065. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-34887-1.
Ugi reactions and related variations are proven to be atom and step-economic strategies for construction of highly valuable peptide-like skeletons and nitrogenous heterocycles. The development of structurally diverse range of novel catalytic systems and the discovery of new approaches to accommodate a broader scope of terminating reagents for asymmetric Ugi four-component reaction is still in high demand. Here, we report a strategy that enables enantioselective Ugi four-component and Ugi-azide reactions employing anionic stereogenic-at-cobalt(III) complexes as catalysts. The key nitrilium intermediates, generated through the nucleophilic addition of isocyanides to the chiral ion-pair which consists of stereogenic-at-cobalt(III) complexes counteranion and a protonated iminium, are trapped by either carboxylic acids or in situ-generated hydrazoic acid, delivering α-acylamino amides and α-aminotetrazoles in good to excellent enantioselectivities (up to 99:1 e.r.).