Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2016

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Pigge, F. Christopher

First Committee Member

Wiemer, David F.

Second Committee Member

Gloer, James B.

Third Committee Member

Stone, Elizabeth A.

Fourth Committee Member

Kerns, Robert J.


Nature provides fascinating and complicated molecular structures which offer synthetic organic chemists amazing opportunities for the design of new strategies for natural product synthesis. Among these, nitrogen containing aza-heterocycles are of unparalleled importance in natural product, bioorganic, and medicinal chemistry. Pyridine and its derivatives in particular are the most common aza-heterocycles encountered in natural products, medicinal and materials chemistry. Pyridine derivatives also serve as precursors to functionalized piperidines, which are likewise common structural motifs in bioactive and functionalized materials. Thus, developing synthetic methods suitable for the manipulation of pyridine ring systems remains an important objective in synthetic organic chemistry.

The functionalization of pyridine derivatives via manipulation at the benzylic position has been investigated. First, the nucleophilicity of the benzylic position of the 4-alkyl pyridine substrates was used to engage in Brønsted acid-catalyzed aldol-like cyclizations with attached carbonyl electrophiles. These conditions afforded substituted pyridines with functionalized lactams. These substrates underwent an unusual dehydration/oxidation reaction when treated with thionyl chloride.

In a similar study, 1,2-dialkylimidazoles afforded nucleophilic 2-alkylidene imidazolines upon treatment with an electrophilic activating group such as Boc2O. Positioning a ketone electrophile with in an N1-alkyl side chain results in cyclization at the imidazole 2-position to afford fused ring imidazoles through an aldol-like cyclization reaction.

The stereoselective synthesis of a tricyclic analogue of the bis(piperidine) alkaloid xestoproxamine C was also investigated. Dearomatization of a tricyclic pyridine derivative afforded an alkylidene dihydropyridine (anhydrobase) intermediate which was subjected to catalytic heterogeneous hydrogenation to install the correct relative stereochemistry about the bis(piperidine) ring system. Other key features of these model studies included development of an efficient ring-closing metathesis procedure to prepare macrocyclic derivatives of 3,4-disusbstituted pyridines, intramolecular cyclizations of alkylidene dihydropyridines to establish pyridine-substituted pyrrolidines and piperidines, successful homologation of pyridine-4-carboxaldehydes using formaldehyde dimethyl thioacetal monoxide (FAMSO), and application of B-alkyl Suzuki coupling to assemble substituted pyridines.

Lastly, a study was done to assess the feasibility of synthesizing one of the two chiral precursors needed for the asymmetric synthesis of xestoproxamine C via enzyme catalyzed transesterification of symmetric 1,3-diols. This resulted in successful transesterification of a symmetric 1,3-diol substrate with high enantioselectivity.


Alkylidene Dihydropyridines, Anhydrobase, Bis(piperidine), Heterocyclic, Imidazoles, Pyridine


xvi, 427 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 413-427).


Copyright 2016 Ashabha Indrashika Lansakara

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