Catalytic conversion of unreactive sp3 C-O bonds in alkyl ethers to C-C bonds is described. Alkyl ethers bearing 2- or 4-pyridyl groups were coupled with triarylboroxines in the presence of a ruthenium catalyst. Triarylboroxines bearing a variety of functional groups including electron-withdrawing and -donating groups can be used for the reaction. No additional base was required for the coupling with the organoboron reagents, and base-sensitive groups can be tolerated. The reaction is considered to proceed via dehydroalkoxylation followed by addition of triarylboroxines to form C-C bonds.
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