Biocatalytic synthesis of planar chiral macrocycles

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Science  21 Feb 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6480, pp. 917-921
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz7381

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Enzymes lock in planar chirality

Molecules with very large rings—macrocycles—are often conformationally constrained, and some exhibit planar chirality when substituents of the ring cannot rotate freely. Restricted rotation is generally valued in macrocycles because it can hold the molecule in functional conformations. Using a well-established lipase enzyme, Gagnon et al. developed a synthesis of planar chiral macrocycles with handles that can be easily functionalized. Computational docking suggests how using an enzyme as the catalyst for sequential acylation reactions can impart the observed stereochemistry.

Science, this issue p. 917


Macrocycles can restrict the rotation of substituents through steric repulsions, locking in conformations that provide or enhance the activities of pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, aroma chemicals, and materials. In many cases, the arrangement of substituents in the macrocycle imparts an element of planar chirality. The difficulty in predicting when planar chirality will arise, as well as the limited number of synthetic methods to impart selectivity, have led to planar chirality being regarded as an irritant. We report a strategy for enantio- and atroposelective biocatalytic synthesis of planar chiral macrocycles. The macrocycles can be formed with high enantioselectivity from simple building blocks and are decorated with functionality that allows one to further modify the macrocycles with diverse structural features.

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