Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy for structural characterization of bioactive compounds Chapter uri icon


  • The structural assignment of a new natural product molecule is not only to establish the 3D structure of a compound, but potentially to provide the basis for research in a multitude of disciplines, ultimately generating new therapeutic agents and/or new understanding of disease biology. The development of modern spectroscopic techniques has transformed the structure assignment process, which previously was essentially based on chemical degradation or derivatization followed by partial or total synthesis. Notably, it was only in the specialization era of the spectroscopic structural assignment of natural products that the field of marine natural products chemistry took shape. Today the processes of marine and terrestrial natural product isolation and structural determination are frequently streamlined and expeditious due to the spectacular advances in chromatographic and spectroscopic technologies as well as chemical synthesis. The NMR spectroscopy is a powerful tool in structure elucidation because the properties it displays can be related to the molecular structure. The chemical environment of a particular nucleus is associated with the chemical shift (d, ppm), and the area of a resonance, usually presented as its relative integral, is related to the number of nuclei giving rise to the NMR signal. The interactions between individual nuclei, mediated by electrons in a chemical bond, determine the coupling constant (J, Hz). In this chapter we will present the techniques commonly used, basic concepts, and how they are useful for chemists in the structural elucidation of mainly bioactive marine natural products. Its complex planar structure is determined by 1H and 13C NMR analysis strongly supported by other 1D (DEPT) and 2D (COSY, TOCSY, HSQC/HMQC, HMBC) NMR techniques. The stereochemistry is generally based on NOE experiments (NOE difference, NOESY, and ROESY), 1H–1H and 1H–13C coupling constants, chiral derivatizing agents, and also in empirical procedures comparing the chemical shifts of unknown vicinal and proximal centers with libraries of configurationally known stereomodels. However, the most reliable option to assign all the 3D structure of a marine natural product still is their total synthesis. The use of NMR hyphenated with other chromatographic and spectroscopic techniques and microcoil probes and narrow diameter tube probes for the structural elucidation of bioactive marine natural products, mainly associated with the quantitative NMR determinations, will be also briefly described. The chapter will finish with a description of the structural characterization of several types of marine natural products using all the referred NMR techniques followed by a small reference to the misassignments that still are very common.

publication date

  • 2014