A chemoselective hydrogenation of isoquinoline carbocycles was achieved by using the catalyst prepared from Ru(methallyl)2(cod) and trans-chelate chiral ligand PhTRAP. The unique chemoselectivity achieved in this hydrogenation could be ascribed to the trans-chelation of the chiral ligand. The procedure for preparing the catalyst strongly affects the reproducibility of the carbocycle hydrogenation. Various 5-, 6-, 7-, and 8-substituted isoquinolines were selectively hydrogenated at their carbocycles to afford 5,6,7,8-tetrahydroisoquinolines as major products in high yields with moderate or good enantioselectivities. Some mechanistic studies suggested that the stereogenic center was created during the initial addition of H2 to the aromatic ring in the hydrogenation of 5-substituted isoquinolines. In other words, the stereochemical control was accompanied by the dearomatization.
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