Transformations of Aryl Ketones via Ligand-Promoted C-C Bond Activation

Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2020 May 28. doi: 10.1002/anie.202006740. Online ahead of print.


The coupling of aromatic electrophiles (aryl halides, aryl ethers, aryl acids, aryl nitriles etc.) with nucleophiles is a core methodology for the synthesis of aryl compounds. Transformations of aryl ketones in an analogous manner via carbon-carbon bond activation could greatly expand the toolbox for the synthesis of aryl compounds due to the abundance of aryl ketones. An exploratory study of this approach is typically based on carbon-carbon cleavage triggered by ring-strain release and chelation assistance, and the products are also limited to a specific structural motif. Here we report a ligand-promoted β-carbon elimination strategy to activate the carbon-carbon bonds, which results in a range of transformations of aryl ketones, leading to useful aryl borates, and also to biaryls, aryl nitriles, and aryl alkenes. The use of a pyridine-oxazoline ligand is crucial for this catalytic transformation. A gram-scale borylation reaction of an aryl ketone via a simple one-pot operation is reported. The potential utility of this strategy is also demonstrated by the late-stage diversification of drug molecules probenecid, adapalene, and desoxyestrone, the fragrance tonalid as well as the natural product apocynin.

Keywords: C−C bond activation; Pd catalysis; aryl ketones; borylation.