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J Nat Prod. 2009 Feb 27;72(2):243-7. doi: 10.1021/np8005452.

Epiquinamide: a poison that wasn't from a frog that was.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Indiana State University, 600 Chestnut Street, Science S35E, Terre Haute, Indiana 47809, USA.


In 2003, we reported the isolation, structure elucidation, and pharmacology of epiquinamide (1), a novel alkaloid isolated from an Ecuadoran poison frog, Epipedobates tricolor. Since then, several groups, including ours, have undertaken synthetic efforts to produce this compound, which appeared initially to be a novel, beta2-selective nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonist. Based on prior chiral GC analysis of synthetic and natural samples, the absolute structure of this alkaloid was established as (1S,9aS)-1-acetamidoquinolizidine. We have synthesized the (1R*,9aS*)-isomer (epi-epiquinamide) using an iminium ion nitroaldol reaction as the key step. We have also synthesized ent-1 semisynthetically from (-)-lupinine. Synthetic epiquinamide is inactive at nicotinic receptors, in accord with recently published reports. We have determined that the activity initially reported is due to cross-contamination from co-occurring epibatidine in the isolated material.

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