The manganese(III) initiated oxidative free radical reaction between 2-amino-1,4-benzoquinones and benzoylacetonitriles is described. This free radical reaction provides a novel method for the synthesis of spirodione 3 and spirolactone 4. With 5,6-dimethyl-2-methylamino-1,4-benzoquinone, spirodione 3 was obtained exclusively. On the contrary, with 5-methyl-2-methylamino-1,4-benzoquinone, spirolactone 4 was produced in high chemo- and regioselectivity. By heating with sodium acetate, spirodione 3 can be converted to 4 effectively.
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