Direct Access to Highly Enantioenriched α-Branched Acrylonitriles through a Formal Cross Rauhut-Currier Reaction

A highly enantioselective synthesis of α-branched acrylonitriles is reported featuring an unprecedented formal cross Rauhut-Currier reaction consisting of an asymmetric Michael addition/retro-Dieckmann/retro-Michael fragmentation cascade. The method, which involves the use of an acrylonitrile surrogate, is practical, scalable and highly versatile, and provides a straightforward access to a wide range of enantioenriched nitrile-containing building blocks without using acrylonitrile or any source of cyanide. Most importantly, it offers a new tool to incorporate an acrylonitrile moiety in an asymmetric fashion.