Nucleophilic Dearomatization of N-Heteroaromatics Enabled by Lewis Acids and Copper Catalysis

Xingchen Yan, Luo Ge, Marta Castiñeira Reis, Syuzanna Harutyunyan*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Dearomative functionalization of heteroaromatics, a readily available chemical feedstock, is one of the most straightforward approaches for the synthesis of three-dimensional, chiral heterocyclic systems, important synthetic building blocks for both synthetic chemistry and drug discovery. Despite significant efforts, direct nucleophilic additions to heteroaromatics have remained challenging because of the low reactivity of aromatic substrates associated with the loss of aromaticity, as well the regio- and stereoselectivities of the reaction. Here we present a catalytic system that leads to unprecedented, high-yielding dearomative C-4 functionalization of quinolines with organometallics with nearly absolute regio- and stereoselectivities and with a catalyst turnover number (TON) as high as 1000. The synergistic action of the chiral copper catalyst, Lewis acid, and Grignard reagents allows us to overcome the energetic barrier of the dearomatization process and leads to chiral products with selectivities reaching 99% in most cases. Molecular modeling provides important insights into the speciation and the origin of the regio- and enantioselectivity of the catalytic process. The results reveal that the role of the Lewis acid is not only to activate the substrate toward a potential nucleophilic addition but also to subtly control the regiochemistry by preventing the C-2 addition from happening.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20247–20256
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number47
Publication statusPublished - 10-Nov-2020

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