American Chemical Society
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(+)-Saxitoxin:  A First and Second Generation Stereoselective Synthesis

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journal contribution
posted on 2007-08-15, 00:00 authored by James J. Fleming, Matthew D. McReynolds, J. Du Bois
A stereoselective synthesis of the bis-guanidinium toxin (+)-saxitoxin (STX), the agent infamously associated with red tides and paralytic shellfish poisoning, is described. Our approach to this unique natural product advances through an unusual nine-membered ring guanidine intermediate 39 en route to the tricyclic skeleton that defines STX. The effectiveness of this strategy is notable, as only four steps are needed to transform 39 into the target molecule, including a four-electron alkene oxidation catalyzed by OsCl3. Construction of the critical monocyclic guanidine has been achieved through two channels, the first of which makes use of Rh-catalyzed C−H amination and highlights a novel class of heterocyclic N,O-acetals as iminium ion equivalents for crafting functionalized amines. A second route to 39 relies on a stereoselective acetylide dianion addition to a serine-based nitrone, thereby facilitating the preparation of STX in just 14 linear steps from commercial material.