Natural products (secondary metabolites) are small organic molecules derived
from plants, microbes, and marine organisms that have served as a diverse source of
useful compounds pharmaceuticals. New biologically active natural products are critical
as anti-infective and cancer drug leads. Cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, produce
diverse cytotoxic metabolites that represent potential anticancer leads.
A Red Sea strain of a Moorea cyanobacterium was isolated from field collections
made during an exploratory expedition in 2007. A study was conducted to determine
unique and known cytotoxic compounds produced by laboratory cultures of this Moorea
Large-scale Moorea cultures were harvested for chemical extraction and
chromatographic purification of compounds by sequential vacuum liquid
chromatography, solid phase extraction, and High Pressure Liquid Chromatography. The
fractionation was guided by brine shrimp and cancer cell toxicity assays. Spectroscopic
methods including mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance were used to
characterize the structures of pure compounds isolated from the active fractions.
The production of the known compounds apratoxin A and lyngbyabellin B was
confirmed along with the new apratoxin analogs apratoxin A sulfoxide and apratoxin H.
In addition, three hydrophobic HPLC fractions reduced cancer cell viability by 70%.
These results demonstrate the profound ability for Moorea sp. to produce an abundance
of cytotoxic secondary metabolites, which may serve as pharmaceutical lead compounds
or molecular research probes.
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