Gold-catalyzed annulations with nucleophilic nitrenoids enabled by heteroatom-substituted alkynes

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The combination of a nucleophilic nitrene equivalent, a triple bond and a π-acid catalyst has underpinned numerous efficient transformations for the preparation of azacycles. This personal account details our efforts in developing an annulation strategy. Adding a nucleophilic nitrenoid to an activated alkyne can generate carbenoid character that is then quenched by a cyclisation onto the nitrenoid substituent. The use and development of N-acyl and N-heterocyclic pyridinium-N-aminides as 1,3-N,O and 1,3-N,N-dipole equivalents is discussed in the context of oxazole and heterocycle-fused imidazole formation, respectively. The resulting processes are highly efficient, practically straightforward, and tolerate considerable structural and functional group variation. Our use of heteroatom-substituted alkynes as enabling tools for reaction discovery is discussed. The reactivity accessed from the strong donor-like properties of ynamides is complemented by that obtained from alkynyl thioethers, which are emerging as interesting substrates for π-acid catalysis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3964-3977
JournalThe Chemical Record
Issue number12
Early online date27 Oct 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Oct 2021


  • alkynes
  • annulations
  • gold catalysis
  • heterocycles
  • nitrene equivalents


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