Reversible cleavage of C(sp3)-H bonds can enable racemization or epimerization, offering a valuable tool to edit the stereochemistry of organic compounds. While epimerization reactions operating via cleavage of acidic C(sp3)-H bonds, such as the Cα-H of carbonyl compounds, have been widely used in organic synthesis and enzyme-catalyzed biosynthesis, epimerization of tertiary carbons bearing a nonacidic C(sp3)-H bond is much more challenging with few practical methods available. Herein, we report the first synthetically useful protocol for the epimerization of tertiary carbons via reversible radical cleavage of unactivated C(sp3)-H bonds with hypervalent iodine reagent benziodoxole azide and H2O under mild conditions. These reactions exhibit excellent reactivity and selectivity for unactivated 3° C-H bonds of various cycloalkanes and offer a powerful strategy for editing the stereochemical configurations of carbon scaffolds intractable to conventional methods. Mechanistic study suggests that the unique ability of N3 • to serve as a catalytic H atom shuttle is critical to reversibly break and reform 3° C-H bonds with high efficiency and selectivity.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry