Heteroaromatics lured into cycloadditions
The Diels-Alder reaction is widely used to produce six-membered carbon rings from alkenes and dienes. Heteroaromatics such as quinolines resemble dienes in principle, but in practice their pairs of double bonds are inert toward cycloadditions because of aromatic stabilization. Ma et al. report that by using an iridium photosensitizer, they could excite quinolines and related azaarenes to triplet states, thereby disrupting the aromaticity and enabling intermolecular, Diels-Alder–like reactivity toward alkenes (see the Perspective by Schmidt). The reactions proceeded exclusively at the flanking carbons outside the nitrogen-containing ring.
Dearomative cycloaddition reactions represent an ideal means of converting flat arenes into three-dimensional architectures of increasing interest in medicinal chemistry. Quinolines, isoquinolines, and quinazolines, despite containing latent diene and alkene subunits, are scarcely applied in cycloaddition reactions because of the inherent low reactivity of aromatic systems and selectivity challenges. Here, we disclose an energy transfer–mediated, highly regio- and diastereoselective intermolecular [4 + 2] dearomative cycloaddition reaction of these bicyclic azaarenes with a plethora of electronically diverse alkenes. This approach bypasses the general reactivity and selectivity issues, thereby providing various bridged polycycles that previously have been inaccessible or required elaborate synthetic efforts. Computational studies with density functional theory elucidate the mechanism and origins of the observed regio- and diastereoselectivities.
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