<i>N</i>‑Heterocyclic Carbene-Catalyzed Diastereoselective Vinylogous Michael Addition Reaction of γ‑Substituted Deconjugated Butenolides

An efficient <i>N</i>-heterocyclic carbene (NHC)-catalyzed vinylogous Michael addition of deconjugated butenolides was developed. In the presence of 5 mol % of the NHC catalyst, both γ-alkyl- and aryl-substituted deconjugated butenolides undergo vinylogous Michael addition with various α, β-unsaturated ketones, esters, or nitriles to afford γ,γ-disubstituted butenolides containing adjacent quaternary and tertiary carbon centers in good to excellent yields with excellent diastereoselectivities. In this process, the free carbene is assumed to act as a strong Brønsted base to promote the conjugate addition.