On the Thermodynamic Control of Ring Opening of 4-Substituted 1,3,3-Tris-Carbethoxycyclobutene and the Role of the C-3 Substituent in Masking the Kinetic Torquoselectivity

<p>The predominant transformations of 4-methyl- and 4-phenyl-1,3,3-<i>tris</i>-carbethoxycyclobutenes to s-<i>trans</i>-<i>trans</i>-1,1,3-<i>tris</i>-carbethoxy-4-methyl- and 4-phenyl-1,3-butadienes, respectively, proceed through a pathway entailing heterolytic cleavage of s<sub>C3C4</sub> bond rather than the usual four-electron conrotatory ring opening. The adventitious or in situ generated halogen acid catalyzes the reaction by either protonation of one of the two ester groups on C3 and, thus, weakening s<sub>C3C4</sub> bond to allow its heterolytic cleavage and formation of a stable cation or protonation followed by halide ion attack in S<sub>N</sub>2 manner on the methyl/phenyl-bearing carbon. Reorganization of the cation species formed in the former event and elimination of the elements of halogen acid from the halo-species formed in the latter event generate the observed product. The nucleophilic attack of DMSO to bring about heterolytic S<sub>N</sub>2 cleavage of s<sub>C3C4</sub> bond is also discussed.</p>