With the suitable selection of a gold catalyst as well as the appropriate control of the reaction conditions, various new gold-catalyzed cyclizations of 2-alkynyl benzaldehyde with acyclic or cyclic vinyl ethers have been developed. Acetal-tethered dihydronaphthalene and isochromenes were obtained from the reactions of 2-alkynyl benzaldehydes with acyclic vinyl ethers under mild conditions. And, more interestingly, the gold-catalyzed reactions of 2-alkynyl benzaldehyde with a cyclic vinyl ether afforded the bicyclo[2.2.2]octane derivative involving two molecules of cyclic vinyl ethers. These products contain interesting substructures that have been found in many biologically active molecules and natural products. In addition, a gold-catalyzed homo-dimerization of 2-phenylethynyl benzaldehyde 1 a was observed when the reaction was carried out in the absence of vinyl ether, affording a set of separable diastereomeric products. Plausible mechanisms for these transformations are discussed; a gold-containing benzopyrylium was regarded as the crucial intermediate by which a number of these new transformations took place.
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