Lipase-catalyzed enantioselective lactonization of racemic methyl 6-phenyl-4-hydroxy-5-hexynoate worked well to afford (R)-6-phenyl-5-hexyn-4-olide (42% yield, 81% e.e.). The e.e. of the product was enhanced to 97% by the repetition of enzymatic reaction. From this lactone, (4R,5R)-isomer of 5-hydroxy-6-phenyl-4-hexanolide, a lateral root inducing substance from Erwinia quercina was synthesized via a selective epoxidation of the intermediate and subsequent hydrogenolysis as the keystep.
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