Synthesis of Nitrile-Bearing Quaternary Centers via an Equilibrium-Driven Transnitrilation and Anion-Relay Strategy

The efficient preparation of nitrile-containing building blocks is of interest due to their utility as synthetic intermediates and their prevalence in pharmaceuticals. As a result, significant efforts have been made to develop methods to access these motifs which rely on safer and non-toxic sources of CN. Herein, we report that 2-methyl-2-phenylpropanenitrile is an efficient, non-toxic, electrophilic CN source for the synthesis of nitrile-bearing quaternary centers via a thermodynamic transnitrilation and anion-relay strategy. This one-pot process leads to nitrile products resulting from the gem-difunctionalization of alkyl lithium reagents.