Cu-catalysed enantioselective radical heteroatomic S-O cross-coupling

Nat Chem. 2023 Mar;15(3):395-404. doi: 10.1038/s41557-022-01102-z. Epub 2022 Dec 27.


The transition-metal-catalysed cross-coupling reaction has established itself as one of the most reliable and practical synthetic tools for the efficient construction of carbon-carbon/heteroatom (p-block elements other than carbon) bonds in both racemic and enantioselective manners. In contrast, development of the corresponding heteroatom-heteroatom cross-couplings has so far remained elusive, probably due to the under-investigated and often challenging heteroatom-heteroatom reductive elimination. Here we demonstrate the use of single-electron reductive elimination as a strategy for developing enantioselective S-O coupling under Cu catalysis, based on both experimental and theoretical results. The reaction manifests its synthetic potential by the ready preparation of challenging chiral alcohols featuring congested stereocentres, the expedient valorization of the biomass-derived feedstock glycerol, and the remarkable catalytic 4,6-desymmetrization of inositol. These results demonstrate the potential of enantioselective radical heteroatomic cross-coupling as a general chiral heteroatom-heteroatom formation strategy.