Research highlight

Synthesis shuts down power

Nature Chemical Biology

May 31, 2008

Scientists have discovered how two natural products stop cell growth, according to a paper to be published online this week in Nature Chemical Biology. This discovery will have major implications in applying these compounds as potential chemotherapy drugs.

Many natural products are potentially useful as drugs or to find out how a particular biological system works, but it is difficult to figure out what natural products ‘do’?what other molecules they bind to and what result that causes. In many cases, this is made more challenging because it is hard to obtain the natural product in sufficient quantities to perform the necessary tests for binding.

Sergey Kozmin and colleagues have developed new synthetic methods to make two natural products called neopeltolide and a simplified version of leucascandrolide A. With sufficient material in hand, they were able to determine that the compounds bind to the cytochrome bc1 complex, an important piece of the machinery that makes ATP and thus provides energy to the rest of the cell. This discovery provides important information about how these compounds act and will open new doors in the development of chemotherapy compounds.

doi: 10.1038/nchembio.94

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