Relatively large amounts of 3-(3aalpha-hexahydro-7abeta-methyl-1,5-dioxoindan-4alpha-yl)propionic acid (IIb), which is believed to be one of the intermediates involved in the degradation of cholic acid (I), were needed to identify is further degradation products. A simple method for the preparation of this compound was then investigated. Arthrobacter simplex could degrade-3-oxoandrost-4-ene-17beta-carboxylic acid (IIIa) to 3-(1beta-carboxy-3aalpha-hexahydro-7abeta-methyl-5-oxoindan-4alpha-yl)propionic acid (IVa) in good yield, the structure of which was established by partial synthesis. It was therefore expected that, if a similar degradation by this organism occurred with 17alpha-hydroxy-3-oxoandrost-4-ene-17beta-carboxylic acid (IIIb), which is easily obtained by chemical oxidation of commercially availabe 17alpha-hydroxydeoxycorticosterone, the resulting product, 3-(1beta-carboxy-3aalpha-hexahydro-1alpha-hydroxy-7abeta-methyl-5-oxoindan-4alpha-yl)propionic acid (IVb), could be readily converted chemically into the required dioxocarboxylic acid, (IIb). Exposure of compound (IIIb) to A. simplex produced, as expected, compound (IVb) which was then oxidized with NaBiO3 to give a reasonable yield of compound (IIb).

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