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PsymPed - Novel biotechnological synthesis of psymberin and pederin for the use as potent antitumor agents

Natural products that elicit specific and unique biological responses in mammalian cells represent valuable tools for new therapeutics in the treatment of malignant diseases. The polyketides pederin and psymberin possess unique cytotoxic properties and are examples for very potent, highly selective and bioactive antitumor agents isolated from Peaderus beetles and different sea sponges. The substances are produced by bacterial symbionts that live in these organisms, but cannot be cultivated outside their hosts. As these compounds are received in very small quantities from each source, an alternative with high yield is desirable.

The localization and heterologous expression of bio-synthetic genes could further this issue and provide sufficient supplies for several pharmaceuticals. However, identification of the according genes in the usually highly complex symbiont communities remains a challenging task. The present inventions are based on the isolation of putative genes responsible for the production of pederin and psymberin. The so-derived genes could be trans-ferred to easily culturable bacteria to produce the antitumor polyketides in an ecologically sustainable manner and in theoretically unlimited amounts.

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