Scope and Mechanistic Investigations on the Solvent-Controlled Regio- and Stereoselective Formation of Enol Esters from the Ruthenium-Catalyzed Coupling Reaction of Terminal Alkynes and Carboxylic Acids
The ruthenium-hydride complex (PCy3)2(CO)RuHCl was found to be a highly effective catalyst for the alkyne-to-carboxylic acid coupling reaction to give synthetically useful enol ester products. A strong solvent effect was observed for the ruthenium catalyst in modulating the activity and selectivity; the coupling reaction in CH2Cl2 led to the regioselective formation of gem-enol ester products, while the stereoselective formation of (Z)-enol esters was obtained in THF. The coupling reaction was found to be strongly inhibited by PCy3. The coupling reaction of both PhCO2H/PhC≡CD and PhCO2D/PhC≡CH led to extensive deuterium incorporation on the vinyl positions of the enol ester products. An opposite Hammett value was observed when the correlation of a series of para-substituted p-X-C6H4CO2H (X = OMe, CH3, H, CF3, CN) with phenylacetylene was examined in CDCl3 (ρ = +0.30) and THF (ρ = −0.68). Catalytically relevant Ru-carboxylate and -vinylidene-carboxylate complexes, (PCy3)2(CO)(Cl)Ru(κ2-O2CC6H4-p-OMe) and (PCy3)2(CO)(Cl)RuC(═CHPh)O2CC6H4-p-OMe, were isolated, and the structure of both complexes was completely established by X-ray crystallography. A detailed mechanism of the coupling reaction involving a rate-limiting C−O bond formation step was proposed on the basis of these kinetic and structural studies. The regioselective formation of the gem-enol ester products in CH2Cl2 was rationalized by a direct migratory insertion of the terminal alkyne via a Ru-carboxylate species, whereas the stereoselective formation of (Z)-enol ester products in THF was explained by invoking a Ru-vinylidene species.