As master craftsmen, modern synthetic chemists are challenged to achieve remarkable feats of efficiency and elegance toward molecular targets. The nature of this pursuit necessitates the collection of synthetic repertoires that are tried and true. With methodologies and pathways increasingly scrutinized, the adept chemist must seek out propitious tools to incorporate into the arsenal. With this in mind, this Account highlights the versatility of alkoxyallenes as precursors to valuable heterocyclic building blocks for such efforts as natural product synthesis. Accessed by the etherification of either propargyl alcohols or propargylic halides, alkoxyallenes are obtained after base-catalyzed isomerizations of the propargylic ethers. A host of umpolung synthons are available through this scheme after metalation, generating C3 nucleophiles synthetically equivalent to vital anionic and zwitterionic synthons. Reactions with a diverse set of heteroatomic electrophiles yield carbohydrates, spiroketals, alkaloids, and heteroaromatics via [3 + 2] or [3 + 3] cyclizations. By employing lithiated alkoxyallenes into transformation routes, the natural product chemist can utilize this methodology as a viable resource in stereoselective synthesis. A survey of our own utilization of alkoxyallenes along synthetic pathways toward natural product targets reveals their suitability for generating advantageous precursors. A set of four stereoisomeric 2,6-dideoxyhexoses were stereoselectively obtained after an initial lithiated alkoxyallene and lactaldehyde cyclization, followed by the oxidative ring opening of the dihydrofurans. Through the addition of a lithiated alkoxyallene to a functionalized benzaldehyde, an essential spiroketal diastereomer was rapidly achieved in a few steps. We greatly benefitted from alkoxyallenes in the construction of complex nitrogen-containing synthetic targets, whether pyrrolidine alkaloids, substituted imidazole derivatives, or functionalized pyridines. A pinnacle example of their utility came from the coupling of alkoxyallenes to nitrones affording 1,2-oxazines, which served as a gateway to an array of novel polyfunctionalized compounds such as aminopolyols, hydroxylated pyrrolidines, or carbohydrate mimetics. Alkoxyallenes have proven themselves to be powerful C3 building blocks toward complex molecular targets, revealing novel pathways to a variety of desirable highly functionalized heterocycles. In our view, the full extent of their synthetic utility has yet to be truly realized.
Malte Brasholz?Hans-Ulrich Reissig?Reinhold Zimmer
Freie Universitt Berlin, Institut fr Chemie and Biochemie, Takustrasse 3, D-14195 Berlin, Germany