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.
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.
The title heterocyclic alcohol readily generates a sulfur-substituted allylic cation upon simple treatment with a protic acid, thus facilitating a synthetically useful stepwise (3+2) cycloaddition reaction pathway with a range of conjugated-olefin-type substrates. The introduction of an allyl fragment in this way provided rapid access to a variety of cyclopentanoid scaffolds. The cyclic nature of the cation precursor alcohol was shown to be instrumental for efficient cycloaddition reactions to take place, thus indicating an attractive strategy for controlling the reactivity of heteroatom-substituted allyl cations. The formal cycloaddition reaction is highly regio- and stereoselective and was also used for a short total synthesis of the natural product cuparene in racemic form through a cycloaddition-hydrodesulfurization sequence.