A concise and largely catalysis-based approach to the potent algal toxin polycavernoside A (1) is described that intercepts a late-stage intermediate of a previous total synthesis; from there on, this challenging target can be reached in a small number of steps. Key to success was a sequence of a molybdenum-catalyzed ring-closing alkyne metathesis (RCAM) reaction to forge the macrocyclic frame, followed by a gold-catalyzed and strictly regioselective transannular hydroalkoxylation of the resulting cycloalkyne that allows the intricate oxygenation pattern of the macrolactone ring of 1 to be properly set. The required cyclization precursor 5 was assembled by the arguably most advanced fragment coupling process based on an Evans–Tishchenko redox esterification known to date, which was optimized to the extent that the precious coupling partners could be used in an almost equimolar ratio (6/7 1:1.3). The preparation of these building blocks features, inter alia, the power of the Sc(OTf)3-catalyzed Leighton crotylation as well as the superb selectivities of alkene cross metathesis, asymmetric keto-ester hydrogenation, and the Jacobsen epoxidation/epoxide resolution technologies.
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