General Strategy for the Synthesis of Antirhine Alkaloids: Divergent Total Syntheses of (±)-Antirhine, (±)-18,19-Dihydroantirhine, and Their 20-Epimers

A general synthetic strategy for antirhine alkaloids was developed in this study. The cyanide-catalyzed imino-Stetter reaction of ethyl 2-aminocinnamate and 4-bromopyridine-2-carboxaldehyde afforded the corresponding indole-3-acetic acid derivative. Subsequent formation of the six-membered C ring followed by trans-selective installation of the two-carbon unit at C-15 provided rapid access to the key intermediate. Stereoselective installation of substituents at C-20 allowed the total syntheses of (±)-antirhine, (±)-18,19-dihydroantirhine, and their 20-epimers, all of the known natural products in the antirhine family.