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Transition metal-catalyzed cycloisomerization is a powerful strategy for the construction of cyclic organic molecules, and the use of palladium catalysts can deliver a wide range of monocyclic and bicyclic products. However, applications of cycloisomerizations in complex target synthesis in which more than one cycloisomerization process is deployed in a cascade context are rare. Here we report investigations of the relative rates of two different types of ene-ynamide cycloisomerization that form fused and spirocyclic rings, and use of these results to design a sequence-controlled cascade cycloisomerization that prepares the tetracyclic core of gelsemine in a single step. Crucial to this work was an evaluation of the kinetics of each cycloisomerization in competition experiments, which revealed a key influence of the ynamide electron-withdrawing group on the cycloisomerization reaction.

Original publication




Journal article


Chem Sci

Publication Date





6970 - 6974