An external-oxidant-free process to access the isoquinolone motif via cross-coupling/cyclization of benzhydroxamic acid with alkynes is described. The reaction features a regioselective cleavage of a C?H bond on the benzhydroxamic acid coupling partner as well as a regioselective alkyne insertion. Mechanistic studies point out the important involvement of a N?O bond as a tool for C?N bond formation and catalyst turnover.
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