Catalytic formal [2+2+1] synthesis of pyrroles from alkynes and diazenes via TiII/TiIV redox catalysis

Zachary W. Gilbert, Ryan J. Hue, Ian A. Tonks

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87 Scopus citations


Pyrroles are structurally important heterocycles. However, the synthesis of polysubstituted pyrroles is often challenging. Here, we report a multicomponent, Ti-catalysed formal [2+2+1] reaction of alkynes and diazenes for the oxidative synthesis of penta- and trisubstituted pyrroles: a nitrenoid analogue to classical Pauson-Khand-type syntheses of cyclopentenones. Given the scarcity of early transition-metal redox catalysis, preliminary mechanistic studies are presented. Initial stoichiometric and kinetic studies indicate that the mechanism of this reaction proceeds through a formally TiII/TiIV redox catalytic cycle, in which an azatitanacyclobutene intermediate, resulting from [2+2] alkyne + Ti imido coupling, undergoes a second alkyne insertion followed by reductive elimination to yield pyrrole and a TiII species. The key component for catalytic turnover is the reoxidation of the TiII species to a TiIV imido via the disproportionation of an η2-diazene-TiII complex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-68
Number of pages6
JournalNature Chemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


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