Photocatalytic Hydroaminoalkylation of Styrenes with Unprotected Primary Alkylamines

Hannah Askey, James Grayson, Josh Tibbetts, Jacob Turner-Dore, Jake M. Holmes, Gabriele Kociok-Kohn, Gail L. Wrigley, Alex Cresswell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (SciVal)


Catalytic, intermolecular hydroaminoalkylation (HAA) of styrenes provides a powerful disconnection for pharmacologically relevant γ-arylamines, but current methods cannot utilize unprotected primary alkylamines as feedstocks. Metal-catalyzed HAA protocols are also highly sensitive to α-substitution on the amine partner, and no catalytic solutions exist for α-tertiary γ-arylamine synthesis via this approach. We report a solution to these problems using organophotoredox catalysis, enabling a direct, modular, and sustainable preparation of α-(di)substituted γ-arylamines, including challenging electron-neutral and moderately electron-rich aryl groups. A broad range of functionalities are tolerated, and the reactions can be run on multigram scale in continuous flow. The method is applied to a concise, protecting-group-free synthesis of the blockbuster drug Fingolimod, as well as a phosphonate mimic of its in vivo active form (by iterative α-C–H functionalization of ethanolamine). The reaction can also be sequenced with an intramolecular N-arylation to provide a general and modular access to valuable (spirocyclic) 1,2,3,4-tetrahydroquinolines and 1,2,3,4-tetrahydronaphthyridines. Mechanistic and kinetic studies support an irreversible hydrogen atom transfer activation of the alkylamine by the azidyl radical and some contribution from a radical chain. The reaction is photon-limited and exhibits a zero-order dependence on amine, azide, and photocatalyst, with a first-order dependence on styrene.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15936-15945
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number39
Early online date20 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 6 Oct 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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