a-Phenylthioaldehydes for the effective generation of acyl azolium and azolium enolate intermediates

Andrew David Smith, Pankaj Majhi, Eli Zysman-Colman, Callum Prentice, Claire Mary Young, Paul Ewing, Karlotta Van Rees, Polly Arnold

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a-Phenylthioaldehydes are readily prepared using a simple multi-step procedure and herein are introduced as a new precursor for the NHC-catalysed generation of acyl azolium and azolium enolate intermediates that are of widespread synthetic interest and utility. Treatment of a-phenylthioaldehydes with an NHC precatalyst and base produces an efficient redox rearrangement via a Breslow intermediate, elimination of thiophenolate, and subsequent rebound addition to the generated acyl azolium to give the corresponding thiol ester. In the presence of an external alcohol, competition between redox rearrangement and redox esterification can be controlled through judicious choice of the N-aryl substituent within the NHC precatalyst and the base used in the reaction. With NEt3 as base, NHCs bearing electron-withdrawing (N-C6F5 or N-C6H2Cl3) substituents favour redox rearrangement, while triazolium precatalysts with electron-rich N-aryl substituents (N-Ph, N-Mes) result in preferential redox esterification. Using DBU, redox esterification is preferred due to transesterification. Additionally, a-phenylthioaldehyde-derived azolium enolates have been used in enantioselective formal [4+2]-cycloaddition reactions to access dihydropyridinone heterocycles with high enantioselectivity (up to >95:5 dr, 98:2 er).
Original languageEnglish
JournalChemical Science
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 9 May 2024


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