American Chemical Society
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Total Synthesis and Anti-Cancer Activity of All Known Communesin Alkaloids and Related Derivatives

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posted on 2019-08-30, 18:03 authored by Matthew M. Pompeo, Jaime H. Cheah, Mohammad Movassaghi
A unified enantioselective total synthesis and anticancer evaluation of all known epoxide-containing communesin alkaloids and related derivatives is described. Our synthesis is predicated on the convergent and modular diazene-directed assembly of two complex fragments to secure the critical C3a–C3a′ linkage followed by a guided biomimetic aminal reorganization to deliver the heptacyclic core of these alkaloids. Concise enantioselective syntheses of the fragments were devised, with highlights including the application of a rationally designed sulfinamide chiral auxiliary, an efficient calcium trifluoromethanesulfonate promoted intramolecular amination, and a diastereoselective epoxidation that simultaneously converts the new chiral auxiliary to a versatile amine protective group. The modularity of our convergent approach enabled the rapid synthesis of all epoxide-containing members of the communesin family from a single heterodimeric intermediate, including the first total synthesis of communesins C–E, and G–I, and facilitated our stereochemical revision of (−)-communesin I, the most recently isolated communesin alkaloid. Furthermore, the generality of our biogenetically inspired heterodimer rearrangement was demonstrated in a guided synthesis of a communesin derivative with an unnatural topology. Finally, we report the first comparative analysis of the anticancer activities of all naturally occurring communesin alkaloids A–I and eight complex derivatives against five human cancer cell lines. From these data, we have identified (−)-communesin B as the most potent natural communesin and discovered that derivatives with N8′-sulfonamide substitution exhibit up to a 10-fold increase in potency over the natural alkaloids.