Nature communications

Asymmetric trapping of zwitterionic intermediates by sulphur ylides in a palladium-catalysed decarboxylation-cycloaddition sequence.

PMID 25413598


Through nearly 50 years of development, sulphur ylides have been established as versatile and powerful reagents for the construction of carbocycles and heterocycles. Despite advances, two important and yet elusive bottlenecks continue to inhibit the advancement of this chemistry: a limited number of reagents with polar groups to react with sulphur ylides, and the wide utilization of chiral auxiliaries or substrates to achieve asymmetric cycloaddition processes in the majority of known reports. Herein, we apply an asymmetric palladium catalysis strategy to the chemistry of sulphur ylides to address these two fundamental problems. We thus achieve an unprecedented decarboxylation-cycloaddition sequence of cyclic allylic esters with sulphur ylides through the enantioselective trapping of Pd-stabilized zwitterionic intermediates by the ylides. As a result, a series of biologically and synthetically important 3-vinyl indolines are rapidly assembled with a high reaction efficiency and stereoselectivity.