Carbene-Catalyzed Formal [5 + 5] Reaction for Coumarin Construction and Total Synthesis of Defucogilvocarcins

An N-heterocyclic carbene-catalyzed formal [5 + 5] reaction between enals and furanones that generates multisubstituted coumarins in a single step is reported. Five atoms in each of the substrates are involved in this catalytic process to form a benzene and a lactone ring. The power of the method is further demonstrated in metal-free total syntheses of several natural products (defucogilvocarcins M, E, and V) bearing coumarin as the key structural motif.