Beyond geminal diesters: increasing the scope of metal-mediated vinylcyclopropane annulations while decreasing pre-activation
The utilization of unactivated substrates in annulation reactions provides access to complex products without the need for subsequent removal of the activating group. Vinylcyclopropanes (VCPs), occurring naturally in several monoterpene natural products, are an important building block for organic chemistry, and can be activated by electron withdrawing substituents directly on the cyclopropane to facilitate ring opening reactions. However, many VCPs that lack these activated groups remain reactive with several group 8, 9 and 10 transition metals, by alternative modes of activation, forming metallacycles. These useful intermediates produce annulation products in reactions with unsaturated π-units, providing rapid access to new carbocycles. Several formal cycloadditions that incorporate unactivated VCPs as substrates have been developed, including [5 + 2], [5 + 2 + 1], [5 + 1 + 2 + 1], [3 + 2], [3 + 2 + 1], [5 + 1], and others, using Rh, Ni, Ru, Ir, Fe and Co based catalysts. Mono- and polycyclic ring systems have been made using these methods with their utility demonstrated through the synthesis of complex natural products. This review will summarize the annulations of VCPs that lack geminal diesters, but retain reactivity via transition metal catalysts.