The main focus of the organic synthesis research group is the chemical synthesis and derivatisation of organic compounds with non-trivial carbon connectivities, such as those found in polycyclic Natural Products. The design and selection of target structures is guided by a specific interest in reactivity patterns and/or a specific interest in biological phenomena. This research often follows a substrate-driven approach which relies on the use of highly modular synthetic intermediates as versatile building blocks or chemical platforms for various applications.
A stereoselective gold(I)‐catalyzed vinylcyclopropanation of alkenes has been developed. A gold-coordinated cationic vinyl carbene species, readily generated via a rearrangement of the ethylenedithioacetal of propargyl aldehyde, reacts with a wide range of alkenes to afford thio-substituted vinylcyclopropanes. The gold-catalyzed vinyl cyclopropanation proceeds under mild conditions at room temperature and is generally selective for the formation of cis‐substituted cyclopropanes. The reaction allows the formal introduction of a 'naked' vinyl carbene, by subsequent chemoselective hydrodesulfurisation of the ethylenedithio-bridge. The synthetic utility of the new method is demonstrated by a short, racemic formal synthesis of the alkaloid cephalotaxin, hinging on a key vinyl cyclopropane‐cyclopentene rearrangement.
Synthetic studies toward the ent-kauranoid family of diterpene natural products are reported. An intramolecular (4 + 3) cycloaddition allows the direct elaboration of diverse natural product frameworks, encompassing a challenging bicyclo[3.2.1]octane core. The established routes comprise only a few synthetic operations (3–5 steps), transforming a range of simple starting materials into the tetracyclic scaffolds that are commonly found in many ent-kaurene metabolites.
A stereoselective synthetic method is reported for the molecular framework found in common daucane and isodaucane sesquiterpenoid natural products. The synthetic method constitutes a scalable, modular, and also asymmetric access to a complex natural product scaffold, wherein the substitution pattern and the stereochemistry can be adjusted simply by choosing different starting materials. The method allows the rapid introduction of diverse heterocyclic substructures such as (benzo)furans, (benzo)thiophenes, dithiins, thiazoles, and indoles, which actually also facilitate and direct the key intramolecular annulation step.
For the rapid elaboration of polycarbocyclic scaffolds, prevalent in many important families of terpenoid natural products, allyl cations derived from simple heterocyclic alcohols can be used as versatile reaction partners in both (4+3) and (3+2) cycloaddition pathways. Our recent progress in this area is outlined, pointing towards the untapped potential of heterocycles to act as reagents in novel or known but challenging organic transformations.