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Direct Observation of Intermediates Involved in the Interruption of the Bischler–Napieralski Reaction

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journal contribution
posted on 07.08.2015 by Kolby L. White, Marius Mewald, Mohammad Movassaghi
The first mechanistic investigation of electrophilic amide activation of α,α-disubstituted tertiary lactams and the direct observation of key intermediates by in situ FTIR, 1H, 13C, and 19F NMR in our interrupted Bischler–Napieralski-based synthetic strategy to the aspidosperma alkaloids, including a complex tetracyclic diiminium ion, is discussed. The reactivity of a wide range of pyridines with trifluoromethanesulfonic anhydride was systematically examined, and characteristic IR absorption bands for the corresponding N-trifluoromethanesulfonylated pyridinium trifluoromethanesulfonates were assigned. The reversible formation of diiminium ether intermediates was studied, providing insight into divergent mechanistic pathways as a function of the steric environment of the amide substrate and stoichiometry of reagents. Importantly, when considering base additives during electrophilic amide activation, more hindered α-quaternary tertiary lactams require the use of non-nucleophilic pyridine additives in order to avoid deactivation via a competing desulfonylation reaction. The isolation and full characterization of a tetracyclic iminium trifluoromethanesulfonate provided additional correlation between in situ characterization of sensitive intermediates and isolable compounds involved in this synthetic transformation.

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