Nature’s synthetic plans to construct molecules have been developed over millions of years of evolution and frequently prove to be among the most sophisticated. Mimicking nature’s route can be a direct and feasible way for synthetic organic chemists to construct complicated molecules. However, lacking nature’s ability to manipulate enzymes often prevents us from reproducing the same route. Modifying nature’s approaches can provide a simpler synthetic alternative to access complex structural target molecules. Here we report a strategy that simplifies the synthesis of terpenes by inverting the order of nature’s two-phase biosynthesis route. We first unite simple molecules into a polyfunctionalized linear polyenyne, with all the desired carbons and oxygens in the targeted places. This compound then undergoes polyenyne cycloisomerization, in the presence of all the functional groups, to give polyoxidized terpenes. The key reaction is a palladium-catalysed polyenyne cycloisomerization that not only tolerates the presence of all of the oxygen functionalities, but also is facilitated by them.
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We thank the Tamaki Foundation and Chugai Pharmaceuticals for their generous, partial funding of our programme.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Trost, B.M., Min, C. Total synthesis of terpenes via palladium-catalysed cyclization strategy. Nat. Chem. 12, 568–573 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41557-020-0439-y