Catalytic Carbon–Carbon Bond Activation of Saturated and Unsaturated Carbonyl Compounds via Chelate-Assisted Coupling Reaction with Indoles

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American Chemical Society

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ACS Catalysis

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DOI: 10.1021/acscatal.0c01245


The chelate assistance strategy was devised to promote a highly regioselective catalytic C–C bond activation reaction of saturated and unsaturated carbonyl compounds. The cationic Ru–H complex 1 was found to be an effective catalyst for mediating the coupling reaction of 1,2-disubstituted indoles with α,β-unsaturated aldehydes and ketones, in which the regioselective Cα–Cβ activation of the carbonyl substrates has been achieved in forming the 3-alkylindole products. The analogous coupling reaction of indoles with saturated aldehydes and ketones directly led to the Cα–Cβ cleavage of the carbonyl substrates in forming the 3-alkylindole products. The coupling reaction of 1,2-dimethylinole with (E)-3-nonen-2-one and 2-propanol-d8 showed 20–22% of deuterium incorporation to both α- and β-CH2 of the 3-alkylindole product. The coupling reaction of 1,2-dimethylinole with (E)-3-nonen-2-one exhibited the most significant carbon kinetic isotope effect on the α-carbon of the product (Cα = 1.046). The Hammett plot constructed from the reaction of 1,2-dimethylinole with a series of para-substituted enones p-X-C6H4CH═CHCOCH3 (X = OMe, Me, H, Cl, CF3) showed a modest promotional effect by an electron-donating group (ρ = −0.2 ± 0.1). Several catalytically relevant Ru–H species were detected by NMR from a stoichiometric reaction mixture of the Ru–H complex 1 with 1,2-dimethylindole and (E)-3-nonen-2-one in CD2Cl2. These results support a mechanism of the catalytic coupling reaction via conjugate addition of indoles to enones followed by the C–C bond activation and hydrogenolysis steps.


ACS Catalysis, Vol. 10, No. 10 (April 2020): 5852-5861. DOI.