Bicyclobutanes: from curiosities to versatile reagents and covalent warheads
The unique chemistry of small, strained carbocyclic systems has long captivated organic chemists from a theoretical and fundamental standpoint. A resurgence of interest in strained carbocyclic species has been prompted by their potential as bioisosteres, high fraction of sp3 carbons, and limited appearance in the patent literature. Among strained ring systems, bicyclo[1.1.0]butane (BCB) stands apart as the smallest bicyclic carbocycle and is amongst the most strained carbocycles known. Despite the fact that BCBs have been synthesized and studied for well over 50 years, they have long been regarded as laboratory curiosities. However, new approaches for preparing, functionalizing, and using BCBs in “strain-release” transformations have positioned BCBs to be powerful synthetic workhorses. Further, the olefinic character of the bridgehead bond enables BCBs to be elaborated into various other ring systems and function as covalent warheads for bioconjugation. This review will discuss the recent developments in the synthesis and functionalization of BCBs as well as the applications of these strained rings in synthesis and drug discovery. An overview of the properties and the historical context of this interesting structure will be provided.
- This article is part of the themed collections: 2022 Chemical Science Perspective & Review Collection and 2022 Chemical Science HOT Article Collection