Studies on the SmI<sub>2</sub>-Promoted Pinacol-Type Cyclization:  Synthesis of the Hexahydroazepine Ring of Balanol

The efficiency of the samarium(II) iodide induced pinacol-type coupling for the construction of seven-membered cyclic amino alcohols has been investigated. With the acyclic carbonylhydrazones <b>6</b> and <b>16</b>, good yields of the hexahydroazepines <b>22</b> and <b>23</b> were obtained (56−57%) with high <i>trans</i>-selectivity (= 10:1), which compares well with similar reactions generating the corresponding five- and six-membered carbocycles (Fallis, A. G.; Sturino, C. F.<i> J. Am. Chem. </i><i>Soc.</i> <b>1994</b>, <i>116</i>, 7447). It is essential for ring formation that the strongly electron-donating ligand, hexamethylphosphoramide, be present, as in its absense intermolecular pinacol coupling forming the diols <b>27</b>−<b>30</b> is the dominant reaction. Hence, the role for HMPA appears not only to increase the rate of electron transfer but also to modulate rate constants for the subsequent reactions (cyclization and pinacol coupling) of the intermediate ketyl. This ring forming reaction has been applied to the construction of the fully functionalized hexahydroazepine ring of the PKC inhibitor, balanol. Initial attempts to develop an asymmetric version of this reaction indicate the use of chiral ligands based on the structure of HMPA.