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Journal: Journal of natural products


Plant peptide protease inhibitors are important molecules in seed storage metabolism and to fight insect pests. Commonly they contain multiple disulfide bonds and are exceptionally stable molecules. In this study, a novel peptide protease inhibitor from beetroot (Beta vulgaris) termed bevuTI-I was isolated, and its primary structure was determined via mass spectrometry-based amino acid sequencing. By sequence homology analysis a few peptides with high similarity to bevuTI-I, also known as the Mirabilis jalapa trypsin inhibitor subfamily of knottin-type protease inhibitors, were discovered. Hence, we assessed bevuTI-I for inhibitory activity toward trypsin (IC50 = 471 nM) and human prolyl oligopeptidase (IC50 = 11 μM), which is an emerging drug target for neurodegenerative and inflammatory disorders. Interestingly, using a customized bioinformatics approach, bevuTI-I was found to be the missing link to annotate 243 novel sequences of M. jalapa trypsin inhibitor-like peptides. According to their phylogenetic distribution they appear to be common in several plant families. Therefore, the presented approach and our results may help to discover and classify other plant-derived cystine knot peptides, a class of plant molecules that play important functions in plant physiology and are currently being explored as lead molecules and scaffolds in drug development.


Three families of RNA viruses, the Coronaviridae, Flaviviridae, and Filoviridae, collectively have great potential to cause epidemic disease in human populations. The current SARS-CoV-2 (Coronaviridae) responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic underscores the lack of effective medications currently available to treat these classes of viral pathogens. Similarly, the Flaviviridae, which includes such viruses as Dengue, West Nile, and Zika, and the Filoviridae, with the Ebola-type viruses, as examples, all lack effective therapeutics. In this review, we present fundamental information concerning the biology of these three virus families, including their genomic makeup, mode of infection of human cells, and key proteins that may offer targeted therapies. Further, we present the natural products and their derivatives that have documented activities to these viral and host proteins, offering hope for future mechanism-based antiviral therapeutics. By arranging these potential protein targets and their natural product inhibitors by target type across these three families of virus, new insights are developed, and crossover treatment strategies are suggested. Hence, natural products, as is the case for other therapeutic areas, continue to be a promising source of structurally diverse new anti-RNA virus therapeutics.


A new inhibitor of VEGF receptor tyrosine kinases, vegfrecine (1), was isolated from the culture broth of Streptomyces sp. MK931-CF8. The molecular structure of 1 was determined by NMR and MS analysis combined with synthesis. Compound 1 showed potent inhibitory activity against vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) tyrosine kinases in in vitro enzyme assays, but platelet-derived growth factor receptors (PDGFRs), fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR), and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) responded only weakly. Compound 1 is a promising new selective VEGFR inhibitor for investigating new treatments of cancer and inflammatory diseases.

Concepts: Signal transduction, Angiogenesis, Epidermal growth factor receptor, Epidermal growth factor, Growth factor, Vascular endothelial growth factor, Growth factor receptor, Fibroblast growth factor receptor


Phaeofungin (1), a new cyclic depsipeptide isolated from Phaeosphaeria sp., was discovered by application of reverse genetics technology, using the Candida albicans fitness test (CaFT). Phaeofungin is comprised of seven amino acids and a β,γ-dihydroxy-γ-methylhexadecanoic acid arranged in a 25-membered cyclic depsipeptide. Five of the amino acids were assigned with d-configurations. The structure was elucidated by 2D-NMR and HRMS-MS analysis of the natural product and its hydrolyzed linear peptide. The absolute configuration of the amino acids was determined by Marfey’s method by complete and partial hydrolysis of 1. The CaFT profile of the phaeofungin-containing extract overlapped with that of phomafungin (3), another structurally different cyclic lipodepsipeptide isolated from a Phoma sp. using the same approach. Comparative biological characterization further demonstrated that these two fungal lipodepsipeptides are functionally distinct. While phomafungin was potentiated by cyclosporin A (an inhibitor of the calcineurin pathway), phaeofungin was synergized with aureobasidin A (2) (an inhibitor of the sphingolipid biosynthesis) and to some extent caspofungin (an inhibitor of glucan synthase). Furthermore, phaeofungin caused ATP release in wild-type C. albicans strains but phomafungin did not. It showed modest antifungal activity against C. albicans (MIC 16-32 μg/mL) and better activity against Aspergillus fumigatus (MIC 8-16 μg/mL) and Trichophyton mentagrophytes (MIC 4 μg/mL). The linear peptide was inactive, suggesting that the macrocyclic depsipeptide ring is essential for target engagement and antifungal activity.

Concepts: Protein, Gene, Amino acid, Adenosine triphosphate, Fungus, Candida albicans, Ascomycota, Candidiasis


Dehydrozingerone (1) is a pungent constituent present in the rhizomes of ginger (Zingiber officinale) and belongs structurally to the vanillyl ketone class. It is a representative of half the chemical structure of curcumin (2), which is an antioxidative yellow pigment obtained from the rhizomes of turmeric (Curcuma longa). Numerous studies have suggested that 2 is a promising phytochemical for the inhibition of malignant tumors, including colon cancer. On the other hand, there have been few studies on the potential antineoplastic properties of 1, and its mode of action based on a molecular mechanism is little known. Therefore, the antiproliferative effects of 1 were evaluated against HT-29 human colon cancer cells, and it was found that 1 dose-dependently inhibited growth at the G2/M phase with up-regulation of p21. Dehydrozingerone additionally led to the accumulation of intracellular ROS, although most radical scavengers could not clearly repress the cell-cycle arrest at the G2/M phase. Furthermore, two synthetic isomers of 1 (iso-dehydrozingerone, 3, and ortho-dehydrozingerone, 4) were also examined. On comparing of their activities, accumulation of intracellular ROS was found to be interrelated with growth-inhibitory effects. These results suggest that analogues of 1 may be potential chemotherapeutic agents for colon cancer.

Concepts: Cancer, Oncology, Chemotherapy, Colorectal cancer, Cell cycle, Ginger, Turmeric, Zingiberaceae


Racemates of the diphenolic metabolites (±)-tylopilusin A (1) and (±)-tylopilusin B (2) were isolated from the fruiting bodies of Tylopilus eximius. Their structures were elucidated on the basis of spectroscopic analyses (1D and 2D NMR data and ROESY correlations) and X-ray crystallography. Each racemate was separated into its individual enantiomers, and electronic circular dichroism calculations were used to assign the absolute configuration of (+)- and (-)-tylopilusin A (1) and (+)- and (-)-tylopilusin B (2).

Concepts: DNA, X-ray, Crystallography, Absolute, Stereochemistry, Enantiomer, X-ray crystallography, Racemic mixture


Terpecurcumins A-I (1-9), together with three known analogues (10-12), were isolated from the rhizomes of Curcuma longa (turmeric). They were derived from the hybridization of curcuminoids and bisabolanes. The structures and absolute configurations of 1-9 were elucidated on the basis of extensive spectroscopic data analysis, including NMR and electronic circular dichroism spectra. The configuration of 10 was further confirmed by X-ray crystallography. A plausible biogenetic relationship for 1-12 is proposed. Compounds 4, 6, 7, 10, and 11 showed higher cytotoxic activities (IC(50), 10.3-19.4 μM) than curcumin (IC(50), 31.3-49.2 μM) against human cancer cell lines (A549, HepG2, and MDA-MB-231).

Concepts: Cell, X-ray, X-ray crystallography, Circular dichroism, Curcuma, Turmeric, Curcumin, Zingiberaceae


Commercially available santonin was used to synthesize seven sesquiterpene lactones using a facile strategy that involved a high-yielding photochemical reaction. Three natural products from Artemisia gorgonum were synthesized in good yields, and in the case of two compounds, absolute configurations were determined from X-ray quality crystals. The structures previously reported for these compounds were revised. Sesquiterpene lactones were tested using the etiolated wheat coleoptile bioassay, and the most active compounds were assayed in standard target species. seco-Guaianolide (4) showed higher phytotoxic activities than the known herbicide Logran. This high activity could be due to the presence of a cyclopentenedione ring. These results suggest that compound 4 should be involved in defense of A. gorgorum, displaying a wide range of activities that allow proposing them as new leads for development of a natural herbicide model with a seco-guaianolide skeleton.

Concepts: Chemistry, Chemical synthesis, Synthesis, Activity, Photochemistry, Photochemical reaction, Sesquiterpene, Sesquiterpene lactone


Ten new clerodane diterpenoids (1-10), caseabalansins A-G, 18-epicaseabalansin A, 2-epicaseabalansin B, and 2-epicaseabalansin C, one new triterpenoid, balansinone (11), and seven known diterpenoids (12-18) were obtained from the leaves and twigs of Casearia balansae. Compounds 1 and 2 are the first examples of clerodane diterpenoids with an oxygen bridge between C-2 and C-19, and compounds 5-7 are three new diterpenoid artifacts presumably formed during the extraction process. The structures of the new compounds were established on the basis of extensive spectroscopic data, and that of 11 was verified by single-crystal X-ray crystallographic analysis. Compound 15 showed cytotoxic activity against the tumor cell lines PC3, DU145, SKOV3, and A549 with IC50 values of 4.5, 4.3, 5.1, and 5.7 μM, respectively. Compounds 1a, 2a, and 4 showed selective activity against PC3 tumor cells.

Concepts: Cancer, Oncology, Tumor, Terpenoid


Citronellal is a major component of Corymbia citriodora and Cymbopogon nardus essential oils. Herein it is shown that whereas (+)-citronellal (1) is an effective microtubule (MT)-disrupting compound, (-)-citronellal (2) is not. Quantitative image analysis of fibroblast cells treated with 1 showed total fluorescence associated with fibers resembling that in cells treated with the MT-disrupting agents colchicine and vinblastine; in the presence of 2, the fluorescence more closely resembled that in control cells. The distribution of tubulin in soluble and insoluble fractions in the presence of 1 also resembled that in the presence of colchicine, whereas similar tubulin distribution was obtained in the presence of 2 and in control cells. In vitro polymerization of MTs was inhibited by 1 but not 2. Measurements of MT dynamics in plant cells showed similar MT elongation and shortening rates in control and 2-treated cells, whereas in the presence of 1, much fewer and shorter MTs were observed and no elongation or shrinkage was detected. Taken together, the MT system is suggested to be able to discriminate between different enantiomers of the same compound. In addition, the activity of essential oils rich in citronellal is affected by the relative content of the two enantiomers of this monoterpenoid.

Concepts: Eukaryote, Cytoskeleton, Mitosis, Colchicine, Tubulin, Microtubule, Citronella oil, Cymbopogon nardus