Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Silent' Fungus Metabolism Awakened For New Natural Products

Date:
May 1, 2008
Source:
Royal Society of Chemistry
Summary:
US scientists have re-awakened 'silent' metabolic pathways in fungi to reveal a new range of natural products. The research could provide not only a source of new drugs, but a way to "listen to what fungi are saying" to organisms around them. Fungi produce a wide variety of natural products, including potent toxins and life-saving drugs such as penicillin. As a result, the genetics of fungi have generated much interest in recent years.

US scientists have re-awakened ‘silent’ metabolic pathways in fungi to reveal a new range of natural products. The research could provide not only a source of new drugs, but a way to “listen to what fungi are saying” to organisms around them.

Fungi produce a wide variety of natural products, including potent toxins – for example, the amanitins, primarily responsible for the toxicity of the death cap fungus – and life-saving drugs such as penicillin. As a result, the genetics of fungi have generated much interest in recent years.

Now, Robert Cichewicz and colleagues at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, US, have shown that metabolic pathways that are normally ‘silent’ can be re-activated to make new compounds, in work published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry.

Many fungi have a wealth of genes encoding for far more natural products than they actually produce, says Cichewicz. The explanation is thought to be that when fungi do not need certain compounds, they inhibit the transcription of the DNA that codes for the proteins that make them, preventing their biosynthesis.

Knowing what these mystery compounds are could be very important for the development of new medicines, as well as for helping us to understand the ecological roles that fungi play, claims Cichewicz.

The DNA involved is inhibited by being scrunched up in a globular form called heterochromatin. To activate this DNA and turn on these ‘silent’ natural product pathways, the team decided to treat fungal cultures with small molecules that interfere with the formation of the heterochromatin – allowing the DNA to be transcripted.

To show their idea in action, the researchers took a culture of Cladosporium cladosporioides, a tidal pool fungus, and treated it separately with 5-azacytidine and suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid. Both treatments, says Cichewicz, dramatically changed the natural product output of the fungus, with two completely new natural products being isolated.

The new approach impresses Jon Clardy at the Harvard Medical School, Boston, US, who says that it could ‘greatly expand the suite of biologically active small molecules obtained from fungi’ and that it ‘capitalises on recent developments in drug discovery to increase the odds of discovering new drugs’.

The results also have important implications for research into fungi and other microorganisms, explains Cichewicz. Natural products are the means by which fungi ‘communicate’ with organisms around them, so we are in essence, he says, ‘discovering chemical means for listening to what fungi are saying’.

Journal reference: Russell Williams et al., Org. Biomol. Chem., 2008, DOI: 10.1039/b804701d


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Royal Society of Chemistry. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Royal Society of Chemistry. "'Silent' Fungus Metabolism Awakened For New Natural Products." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080430123845.htm>.
Royal Society of Chemistry. (2008, May 1). 'Silent' Fungus Metabolism Awakened For New Natural Products. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080430123845.htm
Royal Society of Chemistry. "'Silent' Fungus Metabolism Awakened For New Natural Products." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080430123845.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins