Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Marine fungi contain promising anti-cancer compounds

28.10.2015

A Kiel-based research team has identified fungi genes that can develop anti-cancer compounds

To date, the ocean is one of our planet's least researched habitats. Researchers suspect that the seas and oceans hold an enormous knowledge potential and are therefore searching for new substances to treat diseases here.


Colonies of Scopulariopsis brevicaulis after roughly seven days of cultivation.

Photo: Linda Paun

In the EU "Marine Fungi" project, international scientists have now systematically looked for such substances specifically in fungi from the sea, with help from Kiel University and the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel.

A particularly promising finding is the identification of the genes of one of these fungi, which are responsible for the formation of two anti-cancer compounds - so-called cyclic peptides. A research team headed by Professor Frank Kempken, Head of the Department of Genetics and Molecular Biology in Botany at Kiel University, has now published these new findings in the current edition of PLOS One.

They studied a strain of Scopulariopsis brevicaulis, isolated from a marine sponge found in the Mediterranean Sea. Previous research has shown that the fungus can form the cyclic peptides scopularides A and B, which can inhibit the growth of pancreatic and colon tumour cells. Cyclic peptides have been at the centre of the search for medical substances for a while now.

A whole series of these proteins, formed by bacteria and fungi, amongst other things, have already proven themselves in various aspects of human therapy. Certain antibiotics such as Penicillin also belong to this group, for example.

Until now, however, it was not known which genes in the fungus are responsible for forming anti-cancer compounds. Using genome analysis, the researchers in Kiel were now able to identify NRPS 1 and PKS 2 from the roughly 16,000 eligible genes from the fungus. This gene pair forms the scopularides A and B. This makes it possible to synthetically produce the peptides and alter them in terms of ideal effectiveness.

"Fungi are capable of producing a wide range of different substances, depending on the external conditions. Our challenge lies in recognising the right circumstances for forming a possible compound as well as the genes involved. We have managed to do this, in this case, by identifying the genetic origin of the potential anti-cancer peptides", says Kempken on the importance of these research findings.

The researchers received the fungi cultures that they studied from the collection of the former Kiel Center for Marine Natural Products at GEOMAR (KiWiZ, now the GEOMAR-Biotech), which also deals with the search for marine agents. Professor Johannes F. Imhoff discovered the fungus during a microbiome analysis of the Tethya aurantium sponge. The sponge seemed to provide a setting in its middle that would enable the fungus to survive in the marine environment.

Kempken's research team then sequenced the genome from Scopulariopsis brevicaulis using three different methods. "When identifying the genes, it was helpful that fungi form so-called gene clusters. Genes that have the same function are close together in these organisms", says Dr Abhishek Kumar, former post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Genetics and Molecular Biology in Botany at Kiel University and current scientist at the DKFZ German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg. The compounds from the marine fungus were able to inhibit the growth of certain pancreatic and colon tumour cells in a cell culture. Further intensive research is necessary, however, in order to discover whether the substances are suitable for human therapies.

Original publication:
Abhishek Kumar, Bernard Henrissat, Mikko Arvas, Muhammad Fahad Syed, Nils Thieme, J. Philipp Benz, Jens Laurids Sørensen, Eric Record, Stefanie Pöggeler, Frank Kempken (2015): De Novo Assembly and Genome Analyses of the Marine-Derived Scopulariopsis brevicaulis Strain LF580 Unravels Life-Style Traits and Anticancerous Scopularide Biosynthetic Gene Cluster, PLOS Biology.
Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0140398

Contact:
Prof. Frank Kempken
Abteilung Genetische Botanik und Molekularbiologie
Botanisches Institut und Botanischer Garten, CAU Kiel
Tel.: +49 (0)431/-880-4274
E-mail: fkempken@bot.uni-kiel.de

More information:
Department of Genetics and Molecular Biology in Botany
Botanical Institute and Botanical Gardens, Kiel University
http://www.uni-kiel.de/Botanik/Kempken/fbkem.shtml

Research focus “Kiel Life Science”, Kiel University
http://www.kls.uni-kiel.de

EU Cooperation project “Marine Fungi”:
https://www.marinefungi.eu/de

Dr. Boris Pawlowski | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Plant mothers talk to their embryos via the hormone auxin
17.07.2018 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

nachricht Barium ruthenate: A high-yield, easy-to-handle perovskite catalyst for the oxidation of sulfides
16.07.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Subaru Telescope helps pinpoint origin of ultra-high energy neutrino

16.07.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Barium ruthenate: A high-yield, easy-to-handle perovskite catalyst for the oxidation of sulfides

16.07.2018 | Life Sciences

New research calculates capacity of North American forests to sequester carbon

16.07.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>