Mechanistic Studies on the Base-Promoted Ring Opening of Glycal-Derived gem-Dibromocyclopropanes

J Org Chem. 2022 Jan 7;87(1):301-315. doi: 10.1021/acs.joc.1c02366. Epub 2021 Dec 21.


In the presence of a nucleophilic base, ring-fused gem-dibromocyclopropanes derived from d-glycals undergo ring opening to give 2-deoxy-2-(E-bromomethylene)glycosides. Such cleavage of an exocyclic cyclopropane bond contrasts with the more usual silver-promoted ring-expansion reactions in which endocyclic bond cleavage occurs. Experimental and theoretical studies are reported which provide insights into the reaction mechanism and the origin of its kinetic selectivity for E-configured bromoalkene products. Density functional theory computations (M06-2X) predict that the reaction commences with alkoxide-induced HBr elimination from the dibromocyclopropane to form a bromocyclopropene. Ring opening then gives a configurationally stable zwitterionic (oxocarbenium cation/vinyl carbanion) intermediate, which undergoes nucleophilic addition and protonation to give the bromoalkene. There are two competing sources of the proton in the final step: One is the alcohol (co)solvent, and the other is the molecule of alcohol produced during the initial deprotonation step. The roles of the formed alcohol molecule and the bulk (co)solvent are demonstrated by isotope-labeling studies performed with deuterated solvents. The acid-promoted isomerization of the E-bromoalkene product into the corresponding Z-bromoalkene is also described. The mechanistic knowledge gained in this investigation sheds light on the unusual chemistry of this system and facilitates its future application in new settings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cyclopropanes
  • Kinetics
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Protons*
  • Solvents


  • Cyclopropanes
  • Protons
  • Solvents
  • gem-dibromocyclopropane