Finding closure

Erythromycin is a challenging synthetic target and so represents a test-bed for new organic synthesis techniques. Now, Christina White and graduate student Erik Stang of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, have devised a radically different approach to the big ring of this antibiotic structure. Writing in Nature Chemistry, the team describes the first use of a highly selective C-H oxidative macrolactonization to create the core structure, in a new total synthesis of the erythromycin precursor, 6-deoxyerythronolide B. "This unconventional endgame should enable structural diversification, potentially leading to novel erythromycin antibiotics after glycosylation," Ian Paterson of the University of Cambridge told C&EN.