Okayama University


Towards Non-Toxic Antifouling Agents: A Novel Method for Total Synthesis of Scabrolide F

June 27, 2024

Release Subtitle:
Researchers developed a novel total synthesis method for scabrolide F, a natural compound derived from corals, and revealed its antifouling properties

Release Summary Text:
Norcembranolide diterpenes, isolated from the soft corals of the genus Sinularia, are important compounds for the development of new drugs, owing to their diverse biological activities. However, total synthesis methods for these compounds are scarce. Now, a team of researchers has achieved the total synthesis of scabrolide F, a norcembranolide diterpene. They also revealed its non-toxic antifouling properties. This novel method can lead to the development of new drugs and antifouling agents.

Full text of release:
Marine organisms produce many organic compounds with diverse chemical structures and biological activities. These natural marine products are regarded as potential starting points for the discovery and development of new drugs. Among these are norcembranolide diterpenes isolated from the soft corals of the genus Sinularia. These compounds exhibit diverse biological activities, and many of them have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. Consequently, many studies have investigated the properties of norcembranolide diterpenes and their synthesis methods. Given their potential in drug discovery, developing a synthetic method to produce these compounds is essential. However, reports on the total synthesis of norcembranolide diterpenes are limited.

In a recent study, a team of researchers from Japan led by Associate Professor Hiroyoshi Takamura and including Yuki Sugitani, Ryohei Morishita, and Isao Kadota, all from the Department of Chemistry, Graduate School of Natural Science and Technology at Okayama University, achieved the total synthesis of a norcembranolide diterpene. “In this research, we succeeded in the chemical synthesis of scabrolide F, a natural product that was isolated from a soft coral Sinularia scabra. Moreover, we found that synthetic scabrolide F and its related compounds exhibited antifouling activity without toxicity, which can potentially prevent the damage caused by biofouling, namely, the accumulation of microorganisms, plants, and algae,” explains Dr. Takamura.

The study, published in the journal Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry on May 23, 2024, included contributions from Takefumi Yorisue from the Institute of Natural and Environmental Sciences, University of Hyogo, as well as the Division of Nature and Environmental Management, Museum of Nature and Human Activities.

To synthesize scabrolide F, the researchers designed a hydrocarboxylic acid compound as the key intermediate. They initially attempted to synthesize the intermediate through the coupling of the tetrahydrofuran and the dithiane fragments. The coupling product could then be transformed into the intermediate through an allylation reaction. However, their model study for testing the allylation reaction failed to yield the desired product, prompting the team to pursue an alternative method.

In the second approach, they successfully fabricated the intermediate through a reaction called fragment coupling between an alkyl iodide and an aldehyde. The intermediate was then transformed to the desired scabrolide F, through two key transformations, namely, macrolactonization, which refers to the intramolecular reaction between the hydroxyl group and carboxylic group of the intermediate, and transannular ring-closing metathesis, which forms a ring within an existing macrocyclic ring. This innovative method represents the total synthesis of scabrolide F.

Furthermore, the researchers evaluated the antifouling activity and toxicity of this compound and its five key synthetic intermediates against the cypris larvae of the barnacle Amphibalanus amphitrite. All six compounds were found to have antifouling activity with 50% effective concentration or EC50 values ranging from 2.65–9.46 μg/mL and were non-toxic with 50% lethal concentration or LC50 toxicity level greater than 50 μg/mL. Additionally, one of the intermediates was identified as suitable for the preparation of non-toxic antifouling agents.

The synthesis method present in the study will also be useful for the synthesis of other norcembranolide diterpenes. Highlighting the practical applications of the study, Dr. Takamura says “Preventing damage caused by biofouling is a key global issue. It is expected that organic compounds synthesized in this research can be used to create new antifouling agents and paints.

Overall, the strategy for the total synthesis of norcembranolide diterpenes proposed in this study can aid in the development of antifouling agents and the discovery of new drugs.

Release URL:

Title of original paper: Total synthesis and structure–antifouling activity relationship of scabrolide F
Journal: Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry

Contact Person:Hiroyoshi Takamura
Hiroyoshi Takamura is currently an Associate Professor at the Department of Chemistry, Graduate School of Natural Science and Technology at Okayama University. He also leads the laboratory of organic chemistry at Okayama University. He obtained his Ph.D. from the Department of Chemistry, Graduate School of Science, Tohoku University under Professor Yoshinori Yamamoto in 2005. He has over 60 publications with over 1000 citations. His research interests include synthetic organic chemistry, natural products, and biologically active materials.