Pactamycin Made Easy

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Science  12 Apr 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6129, pp. 152-153
DOI: 10.1126/science.1236882

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Natural products—small molecules isolated from plants, fungi, bacteria, and other microorganisms—continue to serve as an important source of chemical tools for the study of biological systems and disease pathology, as well as new drugs. One example is the natural product pactamycin, which has been instrumental in the investigation of ribosome structure and function (1, 2). However, the structural complexity of this small molecule has historically rendered it—and by extension its unnatural analogs—synthetically inaccessible, hindering efforts at the development of pactamycin-derived therapeutics. On page 180 of this issue, Malinowski et al. (3) report a total chemical synthesis of pactamycin that elegantly addresses this challenge and opens a new chapter in the story of this natural product.