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Nucleophile-Assisted Alkene Activation: Olefins Alone Are Often Incompetent

Ashtekar, Kumar Dilip, Vetticatt, Mathew, Yousefi, Roozbeh, Jackson, James E., Borhan, Babak
Journal of the American Chemical Society 2016 v.138 no.26 pp. 8114-8119
alkenes, chemical interactions, enantiomers, isotopes, spectroscopy, stereoisomerism
Emerging work on organocatalytic enantioselective halocyclizations naturally draws on conditions where both new bonds must be formed under delicate control, the reaction regime where the concerted nature of the AdE3 mechanism is of greatest importance. Without assistance, many simple alkene substrates react slowly or not at all with conventional halenium donors under synthetically relevant reaction conditions. As demonstrated earlier by Shilov, Cambie, Williams, Fahey, and others, alkenes can undergo a concerted AdE3-type reaction via nucleophile participation, which sets the configuration of the newly created stereocenters at both ends in one step. Herein, we explore the modulation of alkene reactivity and halocyclization rates by nucleophile proximity and basicity, through detailed analyses of starting material spectroscopy, addition stereopreferences, isotope effects, and nucleophile–alkene interactions, all obtained in a context directly relevant to synthesis reaction conditions. The findings build on the prior work by highlighting the reactivity spectrum of halocyclizations from stepwise to concerted, and suggest strategies for design of new reactions. Alkene reactivity is seen to span the range from the often overgeneralized “sophomore textbook” image of stepwise electrophilic attack on the alkene and subsequent nucleophilic bond formation, to the nucleophile-assisted alkene activation (NAAA) cases where electron donation from the nucleophilic addition partner activates the alkene for electrophilic attack. By highlighting the factors that control reactivity across this range, this study suggests opportunities to explain and control stereo-, regio-, and organocatalytic chemistry in this important class of alkene additions.