Three-Component [1+1+1] Cyclopropanation with Ruthenium(II)

We report a one-step, Ru(II)-catalyzed cyclopropanation reaction that is conceptually different from the previously reported protocols that include Corey-Chaykovsky, Simmons-Smith, and metal catalyzed carbene attack on olefins. Under the current protocol, various alcohols are transformed into sulfone substituted cyclopropanes with excellent isolated yields and diastereoselectivities. This new reaction forms highly congested cyclopropane products with three new C–C bonds, three or two new chiral centers and one new quaternary carbon center. 22 examples of isolated substrates are given. Previously reported synthetic routes for similar substrates are all multi-step, linear routes that proceed with overall low yields and poor control of stereochemistry. Experimental mechanistic investigations suggest initial metal-catalyzed dehydrogenation of the alcohol substrate and catalyst independent stepwise attack of two equivalents of sulfone on the aldehyde under basic conditions. While the Ru(II) is only responsible for the initial dehydrogenation step, the rate of aldehyde formation is crucial to maintaining the right balance of intermediates needed to afford the cyclopropane product.