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Publication - Professor Craig Butts

    Synergy of synthesis, computation and NMR reveals correct baulamycin structures


    Wu, J, Lorenzo, P, Zhong, S, Ali, M, Butts, CP, Myers, EL & Aggarwal, VK, 2017, ‘Synergy of synthesis, computation and NMR reveals correct baulamycin structures’. Nature, vol 547., pp. 436-440


    Small-molecule, biologically active natural products continue to be our most rewarding source of, and inspiration for, new medicines. Sometimes we happen upon such molecules in minute quantities in unique, difficult-to-reach, and often fleeting environments, perhaps never to be discovered again. In these cases, determining the structure of a molecule - including assigning its relative and absolute configurations - is paramount, enabling one to understand its biological activity. Molecules that comprise stereochemically complex acyclic and conformationally flexible carbon chains make such a task extremely challenging. The baulamycins (A and B) serve as a contemporary example. Isolated in small quantities and shown to have promising antimicrobial activity, the structure of the conformationally flexible molecules was determined largely through J-based configurational analysis, but has been found to be incorrect. Our subsequent campaign to identify the true structures of the baulamycins has revealed a powerful method for the rapid structural elucidation of such molecules. Specifically, the prediction of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) parameters through density functional theory - combined with an efficient sequence of boron-based synthetic transformations, which allowed an encoded (labelled) mixture of natural-product diastereomers to be prepared - enabled us rapidly to pinpoint and synthesize the correct structures.

    Full details in the University publications repository