Enzyme-assisted asymmetric total synthesis of (-)-podophyllotoxin and (- )-picropodophyllin

David B. Berkowitz, Sungjo Choi, Jun Ho Maeng

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Described is the first catalytic, asymmetric synthesis of (-)- podophyllotoxin and its C2-epimer, (-)picropodophyllin. Asymmetry is achieved via the enzymatic desymmetrization of advanced meso diacetate 20, through PPL-mediated ester hydrolysis. A second key feature of the synthesis is the strategically late introduction of the highly oxygenated natural ring E through an arylcopper species. The successful implementation of this approach augers well for the introduction of other functionalized rings E for future SAR work. The synthesis begins from piperonal, which is fashioned into isobenzofuran (IBF) precursor 14 in three steps (bromination, acetalization, and halogenmetal exchange/hydroxymethylation). Interestingly, treatment of 14 with HOAc in commerical dimethyl maleate (contains 5% dimethyl fumarate) leads to a nearly equimolar mixture of fumarate-(15) and maleate-IBF Diels- Alder adducts (16 and 17), indicating that IBF 11 reacts about 15 times faster with dimethyl fumarate than with dimethyl maleate. With scrupulously pure dimethyl maleate a 2.8:1 endo:exo mixture of maleate DA adducts is still obtained. On the other hand, the desired meso diester 16 is obtained pure and in nearly quantitative yield by employing neat dimethyl acetylene dicarboxylate as the dienophile, followed by catalytic hydrogenation. Reduction (LiAlH4) of 16 provides meso diol 19, which is then treated with Ac2O, BzCl, and PhCH2COCl to provide the corresponding meso diesters, 20- 22. Screening of these meso benzoxabicyclo[2.2.1]heptyl substrate candidates across a battery of acyl transfer enzymes leads to an optimized match of diacetate 20 with PPL. Even on 10-20 g scales, asymmetry is efficiently introduced here, yielding the key chiral intermediate, monoacetate 25 (66% isolated yield, 83% corrected yield, 95% ee). Protecting group manipulation and oxidation (Swern) provide aldehyde 27b, which undergoes efficient retro- Michael ring opening to produce dihydronaphthalene 30, in which the C3 and C4 stereocenters are properly set. Following several unsuccessful approaches to the intramolecular delivery of ring E (via Claisen rearrangement, Heck- type cyclization, or radical cyclization), a highly diastereoselective, intermolecular conjugate addition of the arylcopper reagent derived from (3,4,5-trimethoxy)phenylmagnesium bromide and CuCN to acyl oxazolidinone 50 was developed (85% yield, only the required α-stereochemistry at C1 is observed). The conjugate addition product is converted to (-)- picropodophyllin in two steps (lactonization, SEM deprotection) or to (-)- podophyllotoxin, in three steps, through the introduction of a C2- epimerization step, under Kende conditions, prior to the final conjugate addition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)847-860
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Organic Chemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 11 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry


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