• Cyclization;
  • Allylic alkylation;
  • Alkylation;
  • Synthetic methods;
  • Palladium;
  • Catalysis;
  • C−C coupling


The history of ring systems in organic chemistry parallels their synthetic accessibility. Transition-metal-catalyzed cyclizations offer a new opportunity to create carbo- and heterocyclic compounds with great facility. Among these methods, allylic alkylations catalyzed by palladium have proven unusually productive because of the extraordinary chemo-, regio-, and diastereoselectivity and the continuing possibility for the development of enantioselectivity. The rules for ring closure differ from those for non-transition-metal-catalyzed reactions. A major benefit is the ability to generate medium (eight-, nine-, ten-, and eleven-membered) and large rings in preference to normal (five-, six- and seven-membered) rings. With the appropriate substrate, efficient macrocyclizations are possible under conditions of normal concentrations. A second major benefit derives from the complementary stereochemistry of the metalcatalyzed substitution (net retention of configuration) compared to non-metal-catalyzed reactions (inversion of configuration). Further, the requirement for the substrate to conform to the transition-metal template may impose a stereochemical preference in the intermediate that ultimately translates into the thermodynamically less stable organic product regardless of the stereochemistry of the starting material. While more work has focused on carbocyclic synthesis, the possibilities for heterocyclic synthesis are just beginning to be tapped. In addition to forming heterocycles by C[BOND]C bond formation, use of a heteroatom as a nucleophile has already proven effective for oxygen and nitrogen, with other nucleophiles awaiting investigation. New dimensions for cyclization via allylic alkylation arise by generating the requisite π-allylpalladium intermediates by methods other than palladium(0)-initiated allylic ionizations. In addition, metals other than palladium will clearly expand the possibilities, but as yet remain untapped.