The 1,2-rearrangement of o-quinols has been a long-standing unsolved problem since 1958. Although the rearrangement is expected to be useful for syntheses of catechol derivatives, it is hampered by many competing reactions and has not been developed as a useful methodology. Here, we succeeded in settling this problem by a first systematic thorough investigation, establishing the 1,2-rearrangement as a cascade reaction with a retro Diels-Alder reaction from o-quinol dimers. This is a useful strategy for syntheses of substituted catechols used as synthetic building blocks for bioactive compounds and material molecules. o-Quinol dimers were synthesized by improved oxidative hydroxylation of substituted phenols followed by spontaneous Diels-Alder reaction. The dimers then underwent the retro Diels-Alder reaction to regenerate the o-quinols followed by 1,2-rearrangement under neutral heating conditions at an appropriate temperature depending on the migratory substituent, furnishing substituted catechols in good yields. The competing reactions such as an elimination of a substituent or α-ketol rearrangement were minimized by controlling the reaction temperature.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- 化学 (全般)