A novel and efficient catalytic approach to functionalized furo[3,4-b]indol-1-ones is reported. It is based on a palladium-catalyzed sequential process involving an initial cyclization of 2-(hydroxypropyn-1-yl)anilines to form the indole moiety, followed by insertion of carbon monoxide and a second annulation step to build a lactone ring. In a single transformation, two fused heterocycles and three new bonds (C-N, C-C and C-O) are generated. The present methodology gives direct access to structurally complex molecules starting from readily available reagents.
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