Synlett 2007(6): 0949-0953  
DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-973885
© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

The Meyer-Schuster Rearrangement of Ethoxyalkynyl Carbinols

Susana S. Lopez, Douglas A. Engel, Gregory B. Dudley*
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-4390, USA
Fax: +1(850)6448281; e-Mail: [email protected];
Further Information

Publication History

Received 15 January 2007
Publication Date:
26 March 2007 (online)


The combination of electron-rich alkoxyacetylenes and cationic gold catalysts provides excellent reactivity for the Meyer-Schuster rearrangement under mild conditions. Optimization of the reaction conditions with respect to stereoselectivity and investigations into the scope and mechanism of the rearrangement of secondary ethoxyalkynyl carbinols (γ-ethoxy-substituted propargyl alcohols) to α,β-unsaturated esters are described.

    References and Notes

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Ethoxyacetylene was purchased from Sigma-Aldrich as a 40% solution in hexane and used as received.


Satisfactory characterization data (1H NMR, 13C NMR, IR, HRMS) were obtained for all compounds. Yields refer to at least 50 mg of material isolated in >95% purity.


An insoluble residue, which has no apparent impact on the course of the reaction, was observed in the solutions of AuCl (Aldrich, 99.9%) in 1:1 THF-CH2Cl2. Identical results were obtained when this catalyst solution was filtered, decanted, or used with the unknown residue in place.


2-Butanone is the recommended solvent in a forthcoming study on the transpositional hydrolysis of propargylic acetates (Prof. Liming Zhang, University of Nevada, Reno, private communication; Yu, M.; Li, G.; Wang, S.; Zhang, L. Adv. Synth Catal. 2007, in press, DOI: 10.1002/adsc.200600579).


In fact, simultaneous addition of the solutions of the gold and silver salts to the reaction mixture provided the enoate products with slightly better selectivity, but we consider the sequential addition protocol to be more easily duplicated and thus preferable.


Isomerization of the Z-enoates to the E-enoates does not occur under the reaction conditions: extending the reaction time does not have a significant effect on the product ratio, and resubjecting the enoate mixtures to the rearrangement conditions does not change the ratio of stereoisomers. Therefore, we assume that the nonthermodynamic product distribution is purely the result of kinetic control.


To the extent that the additive is incorporated into the product, the Meyer-Schuster reaction is not a true ‘rearrangement’, although it is generally referred to as such in a formal sense for the sake of simplicity.


Control experiments confirmed that the rearrangement conditions do not promote transesterification between the ethyl and propyl esters, so the incorporation of the propanol additive is most likely occurring during the course of the rearrangement.