Unexpected divergent reactivity in Pt-catalyzed cyclizations of 1,5-bisallenes

As a result of their unique physical and chemical properties, allenes have become key building blocks in modern organic synthesis. The discovery and development of their varied reactivity have been extensively reported on in recent years, however, application to more challenging bisallene systems has been comparatively limited.

In her group’s recent OBC publication, Prof. María Paz Muñoz of the University of East Anglia sought to fill this gap in the bisallene literature. The study discusses the development of an unprecedented Pt-catalyzed cyclization of 1,5-bisallenes in the presence of oxygen nucleophiles to selectively access 6- and 7-membered rings.

After initial screening, it was observed that selectivity was highly sensitive to the reaction conditions and could, therefore, be tuned to yield the desired molecular scaffold. Interestingly, in the presence of nucleophilic alcohols, vinyltetrahydropyridines are formed preferentially while the formation of di- and tetrahydroazepines are favoured when water is used.

Exhaustive mechanistic studies provided insight into this divergent reactivity. It was determined that different mechanisms operate depending on the nucleophile and electronic nature of the bisallene (as a result of its nitrogen tether). It is proposed that, in the presence of nucleophilic alcohols, 6-membered vinyltetrahydropyridines are preferentially formed as a result of a platinum hydride active catalyst—which are known to form from platinum complexes and alcohols. Tetrahydroazepines, on the other hand, are favoured when water is used as the nucleophile, proceeding first through a nucleophilic attack followed by carbocylization to form the 7-membered ring.

Understanding this complex mechanistic behaviour provides important insight into bisallene reactivity and will no doubt enhance the scope of this work’s application in organic and medicinal chemistry.

This communication is part of the OBC themed collection, Mechanistic Aspects of Organic Synthesis. You can read the rest of the collection here.


To find out more see:

Nucleophile dependent formation of 6- and 7-membered N-heterocycles by platinum-catalysed cyclisation of 1,5-bisallenes
María Teresa Quirós,César Hurtado-Rodrigo and María Paz Muñoz

Victoria Corless is currently completing her Ph.D. in organic chemistry with Prof. Andrei Yudin at the University of Toronto. Her research is centred on the synthesis of kinetically amphoteric building blocks which offer a versatile platform for the development of chemoselective transformations with particular emphasis on creating novel biologically active molecules.

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