A formal total synthesis of eleutherobin using the ring-closing metathesis (RCM) reaction of a densely functionalized diene as the key step: Investigation of the unusual kinetically controlled RCM stereochemistry

Damiano Castoldi, Lorenzo Caggiano, Laura Panigada, Ofer Sharon, Anna M. Costa, Cesare Gennari

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46 Citations (Scopus)


Asymmetric oxyallylation reactions and ring-closing metathesis have been used to synthesize compound 3, a key advanced intermediate used in the total synthesis of eleutherobin reported by Danishefsky and co-workers. The aldehyde 6, which is readily prepared from commercially available R-(-)-carvone in six steps in 30% overall yield on multigram quantities, was converted into the diene 5 utilizing two stereoselective titanium-mediated Hafner-Duthaler oxyallylation reactions. The reactions gave the desired products (8 and 12) in high yields (73 and 83%, respectively) as single diastereoisomers, with the allylic alcohol already protected as the p-methoxyphenyl (PMP) ether, which previous work has demonstrated actually aids ring-closing metathesis compared to other protective groups and the corresponding free alcohol. Cyclization under forcing conditions, using Grubbs' second-generation catalyst 13, gave the ten-membered carbocycle (E)-14 in 64% yield. This result is in sharp contrast to similar, but less functionalized, dienes, which have all undergone cyclization to give the Z stereoisomers exclusively. A detailed investigation of this unusual cyclization stereochemistry by computational methods has shown that the E isomer of the ten-membered carbocycle is indeed less thermody-namically stable than the corresponding Z isomer. In fact, the selectivity is believed to be due to the dense functionality around the ruthenacyclobutane intermediate that favors the trans-ruthenacycle, which ultimately leads to the less stable E isomer of the ten-membered carbocycle under kinetic control. During the final synthetic manipulations the double bond of enedione (E)-16 isomerized to the more thermodynamically stable enedione (Z)-4, giving access to the advanced key-intermediate 3, which was spectro-scopically and analytically identical to the data reported by Danishefsky and co-workers, and thereby completing the formal synthesis of eleutherobin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-62
Number of pages12
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2005


  • Antitumor agents
  • Natural products
  • Ring-closing metathesis
  • Stereocontrol
  • Total synthesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Organic Chemistry

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