A convenient route to isoindolo[2,1-a]indol-6-ones has been developed starting from the appropriate 2-(N-phthaloyl)benzoic acids. Formation of the acid chlorides with thionyl chloride followed by heating with triethyl phosphite in a suitable solvent resulted in a multistep reaction giving tetracyclic β-ketophosphonates that on reduction with sodium borohydride gave the required indolones in good overall yields. Analogous β-ketophosphonates were also prepared starting with N,N-(1,8-naphthaloyl)-2-aminobenzoic acid and 2-(2,5-dioxo-2,5-dihydro-1H-pyrrol-1-yl)benzoic acids although of these only the naphthaloyl product could be reduced with sodium borohydride without cleaving the amide bond in the ring system.
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Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry
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