Diversity Focused Semisyntheses of Tetronate Polyether Ionophores

The polyether ionophores are complex natural products capable of transporting cations across biological membranes. Many family members possess highly potent antimicrobial activity and a few selected compounds have ability to target particularly aggressive cancer cells. Despite these interesting perspectives, a detailed understanding of the cellular mode-of-action of polyether ionophores is generally lacking. In principle, broad mapping of structure-activity relationships across several biological activities could provide mechanistic insights as well as identification of lead structures but access to structural diversity within the overall class is synthetically very challenging. In this manuscript, we demonstrate that novel polyether ionophores can be constructed by recycling components of highly abundant polyethers. We provide the first examples of synthetically incorporating halogen-functionalized tetronic acids as cation-binding groups into polyether ionophores and we identify analogs with strong anti-bacterial activity and minimal effects on mammalian cells.