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C-C Bond Cleavage of α-Pinene Derivatives Prepared from Carvone as a General Strategy for Complex Molecule Synthesis.


The preparation of complex molecules (e.g., biologically active secondary metabolites) remains an important pursuit in chemical synthesis. By virtue of their sophisticated architectures, complex natural products inspire total synthesis campaigns that can lead to completely new ways of building molecules. In the twentieth century, one such paradigm which emerged was the use of naturally occurring "chiral pool terpenes" as starting materials for total synthesis. These inexpensive and naturally abundant molecules provide an easily accessed source of enantioenriched material for the enantiospecific preparation of natural products. The most common applications of chiral pool terpenes are in syntheses where their structure can, entirely or largely, be superimposed directly onto a portion of the target structure. Less straightforward uses, where the structure of the starting chiral pool terpene is not immediately evident in the structure of the target, can be more challenging to implement. Nevertheless, these "nonintuitive" approaches illustrate the ultimate promise of chiral pool-based strategies: that any single chiral pool terpene could be applied to syntheses of an indefinite number of structurally diverse complex synthetic targets.By definition, such strategies require carefully orchestrated sequences of C-C bond forming and C-C cleaving reactions which result in remodeling of the terpene architecture. The combination of traditional rearrangement chemistry and transition-metal-catalyzed C-C cleavage methods, the latter of which were primarily developed in the early twenty-first century, provide a rich and powerful toolbox for implementing this remodeling approach. In this Account, we detail our efforts to use a variety of C-C cleavage tactics in the skeletal remodeling of carvone, a chiral pool terpene. This skeletal remodeling strategy enabled the reorganization of the carvone scaffold into synthetic intermediates with a variety of carboskeletons, which we, then, leveraged for the total syntheses of structurally disparate terpene natural products.We begin by describing our initial investigations into various, mechanistically distinct C-C cleavage processes involving cyclobutanols synthesized from carvone. These initial studies showcased how electrophile-mediated semipinacol rearrangements of these cyclobutanols can lead to [2.2.1]bicyclic intermediates, and how Rh- and Pd-catalyzed C-C cleavage can lead to a variety of densely functionalized cyclohexenes pertinent to natural product synthesis. We, then, present several total syntheses using these synthetic intermediates, beginning with the bridged, polycyclic sesquiterpenoid longiborneol, which was synthesized from a carvone-derived [2.2.1]bicycle following a key semipinacol rearrangement. Next, we discuss how several members of the macrocyclic phomactin family were synthesized from a cyclohexene derivative prepared through a Rh-catalyzed C-C cleavage reaction. Finally, we describe our synthesis of the marine diterpene xishacorene B, which was prepared using a key Pd-catalyzed C-C cleavage/cross-coupling that facilitated the assembly of the core [3.3.1]bicycle that is resident in the natural product structure.

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