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Dispersion-Controlled Regioselective Acid-Catalyzed Intramolecular Hydroindolation of cis-Methindolylstyrenes To Access Tetrahydrobenzo[cd]indoles

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Readily prepared cis-β-(α',α'-dimethyl)-4'-methindolylstyrenes undergo acid-catalyzed intramolecular hydroindolation to afford tetrahydrobenzo[ cd]indoles. Our experimental and computational investigations suggest that dispersive interactions between the indole and styrene preorganize substrates such that 6-membered ring formation is preferred, apparently via concerted protonation and C-C bond formation. When dispersion is attenuated (by a substituent or heteroatom), regioselectivity erodes and competing oligomerization predominates for cis substrates. Similarly, all trans-configured substrates that we evaluated failed to cyclize efficiently.

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