Cyclization by intramolecular carbolithiation of alkyl- and vinyllithiums prepared by the action of aromatic radical anions on phenyl thioethers. High stereoselectivity in the cyclization accelerated by an allylic lithium oxyanion

J Org Chem. 2006 Mar 17;71(6):2360-72. doi: 10.1021/jo052535m.


The reductive lithiation of alkyl and vinyl phenyl thioethers by aromatic radical anions is shown to be the most general method yet known for preparing organolithiums capable of intramolecular carbometalation of unactivated alkenes to produce five-membered rings and in one case a four-membered ring (in a far higher yield than known cases). The relative rates of cyclization for alkyllithiums are secondary > tertiary > primary, and the yields are very high. In the secondary case, the stereoselectivity is extremely high, producing a cyclopentylmethyllithium with a trans-2-alkyl substituent. A remarkable finding is that for all of the organolithiums a lithium oxyanionic group in the proximal allylic position to the alkene greatly accelerates the cyclization and leads almost exclusively to a trans relationship between the CH(2)Li group and the OLi group, the opposite relationship from that observed in intramolecular carbolithiations by allyllithiums. A mechanistic rationale for this divergence is discussed. One of the two types of proximal homoallylic lithium oxyanions exerts an analogous effect. An intriguing limitation, even occurring with the highly reactive secondary organolithium and in the presence of an allylic oxyanionic group, is the failure of intramolecular carbolithiation when a methyl group is at the terminus of the alkene.