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  1. Paraja, M.; Gini, A.; Sakai, N.; Matile, S. “Pnictogen-Bonding Catalysis:  An Interactive Tool to Uncover Unorthodox Mechanisms in Polyether Cascade Cyclizations” Chem. Eur. J. 2020, 26, 15471-15475

Pnictogen-bonding catalysis and supramolecular σ-hole catalysis in general is currently being introduced as the non-covalent counterpart of covalent Lewis acid catalysis. With access to anti-Baldwin cyclizations identified as unique characteristic, pnictogen-bonding catalysis appeared promising to elucidate one of the hidden enigmas of brevetoxin-type epoxide opening polyether cascade cyclizations, that is the cyclization of certain trans epoxides into cis-fused rings. In principle, a shift from SN2- to SN1-type mechanisms could suffice to rationalize this inversion of configuration. However, the same inversion could be explained by a completely different mechanism: Ring opening with C−C bond cleavage into a branched hydroxy-5-enal and the corresponding cyclic hemiacetal, followed by cascade cyclization under conformational control, including stereoselective C−C bond formation. In this report, a pnictogen-bonding supramolecular SbV catalyst is used to demonstrate that this unorthodox polyether cascade cyclization mechanism occurs.


DOI: 10.1002/chem.202003426 

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