Integrated SequencePhysics Chemistry Organic Biology

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Virtual Textbook of Organic Chemistry - Acid-Base Catalysis
Excellent presentation of an important topic. Highly recommended.

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Special points of emphasis

Organic Acids and Bases

Reactions of Alkenes

Reactions of Alcohols and Ethers

Reactions of Carboxylic Acids and Derivatives


Acid catalysis is a common strategy in synthetic organic chemistry and biochemistry to increase the susceptibility of a target molecule to nucleophilic attack.

Acid catalyzed reactions include hydration of alkenes, dehydration of alcohols, cleavage of ethers, (and epoxide ring opening), nucleophilic additions to aldehydes and ketones, and the category of acyl transfer reactions.

Acid catalysis is an essential step in the catalytic mechanisms of many enzymes. For example, the active site of lysozyme, an enzyme devoted to immune protection, contains a particular glutamic acid residue that donates a proton to the ether linkage in the polysaccharide component of a bacterial cell wall facilitating lysozyme's ability to cleave the polysaccharide.

Organic Acids and Bases

Reactions of Aldehydes and Ketones

Reactions of Carboxylic Acids and Derivatives

Base catalysis is also extremely important in organic chemistry. Hydrolysis of carboxylic acid derivatives can be either acid or base catalyzed. One of the MCAT's favorite organic chemistry reactions is base catalyzed. That would be aldol condensation.

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