Synthesis and bioactivity of nobilamide B

M. P. V. Jacinto, M. S. Flores, Z. Lin, G. P. Concepcion, E. W. Schmidt, S. Faulkner, and A. J. L. Villaraza.view the article

Abstract: An alternative and facile solution/solid-phase approach is reported for the total synthesis of neuroactive peptide, nobilamide B. Z-Dhb was formed in solution via EDC/CuCl induced elimination. The solid-phase synthesis employed HBTU/Oxyma PureTM coupling using Barlos resin. Synthetic nobilamide B was also found to be neuroactive in primary cultures of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons.

Griseorhodins D-F, Neuroactive Intermediates and End Products of Post-PKS Tailoring Modification in Griseorhodin Biosynthesis

Lin Z, Zachariah MM, Marett L, Hughen RW, Teichert RW, Concepcion GP, Haygood MG, Olivera BM, Light AR, Schmidt EW.view the article

Abstract: The griseorhodins belong to a family of extensively modified aromatic polyketides that exhibit activities such as inhibition of HIV reverse transcriptase and human telomerase. The vast structural diversity of this group of polyketides is largely introduced by enzymatic oxidations, which can significantly influence the bioactivity profile. Four new compounds, griseorhodins D-F, were isolated from a griseorhodin producer, Streptomyces sp. CN48+, based upon their enhancement of calcium uptake in a mouse dorsal root ganglion primary cell culture assay. Two of these compounds, griseorhodins D1 and D2, were shown to be identical to the major, previously uncharacterized products of a grhM mutant in an earlier griseorhodin biosynthesis study. Their structures enabled the establishment of a more complete hypothesis for the biosynthesis of griseorhodins and related compounds. The other two compounds, griseorhodins E and F, represent new products of post-polyketide synthase tailoring in griseorhodin biosynthesis and showed significant binding activity in a human dopamine active transporter assay.

Boronated tartrolon antibiotic produced by symbiotic cellulose-degrading bacteria in shipworm gills

Sherif I. Elshahawi, Amaro E. Trindade-Silva, Amro Hanora, Andrew W. Han, Malem S. Flores, Vinicius Vizzoni, Carlos G. Schrago, Carlos A. Soares, Gisela P. Concepcion, Dan L. Distel, Eric W. Schmidt, and Margo G. Haygood view the article

Abstract: Shipworms are marine wood-boring bivalve mollusks (family Teredinidae) that harbor a community of closely related Gammaproteobacteria as intracellular endosymbionts in their gills. These symbionts have been proposed to assist the shipworm host in cellulose digestion and have been shown to play a role in nitrogen fixation. The genome of one strain of Teredinibacter turnerae, the first shipworm symbiont to be cultivated, was sequenced, revealing potential as a rich source of polyketides and nonribosomal peptides. Bioassay-guided fractionation led to the isolation and identification of two macrodioloide polyketides belonging to the tartrolon class. Both compounds were found to possess antibacterial properties, and the major compound was found to inhibit other shipworm symbiont strains and various pathogenic bacteria. The gene cluster responsible for the synthesis of these compounds was identified and characterized, and the ketosynthase domains were analyzed phylogenetically. Reverse-transcription PCR in addition to liquid chromatography and high-resolution mass spectrometry and tandem mass spectrometry revealed the transcription of these genes and the presence of the compounds in the shipworm, suggesting that the gene cluster is expressed in vivo and that the compounds may fulfill a specific function for the shipworm host. This study reports tartrolon polyketides from a shipworm symbiont and unveils the biosynthetic gene cluster of a member of this class of compounds, which might reveal the mechanism by which these bioactive metabolites are biosynthesized.

Nobilamides A-H, long-acting transient receptor potential vanilloid-1 (TRPV1) antagonists from mollusk-associated bacteria

Lin Z, Reilly CA, Antemano R, Hughen RW, Marett L, Concepcion GP, Haygood MG, Olivera BM, Light A, Schmidt EW.  view the article

Abstract: New compounds nobilamides A-H and related known compounds A-3302-A and A-3302-B were isolated based upon their suppression of capsaicin-induced calcium uptake in a mouse dorsal root ganglion primary cell culture assay. Two of these compounds, nobilamide B and A-3302-A, were shown to be long-acting antagonists of mouse and human TRPV1 channels, abolishing activity for >1 h after removal of drug presumably via a covalent attachment. Other derivatives also inhibited the TRPV1 channel, albeit with low potency, affording a structure-activity profile to support the proposed mechanism of action. While the activities were modest, we propose a new mechanism of action and a new site of binding for these inhibitors that may spur development of related analogues for treatment of pain.


Microbial Distribution and Abundance in the Digestive System of Five Shipworm Species (Bivalvia: Teredinidae)

Meghan A. Betcher, Jennifer M. Fung, Andrew W. Han, Roberta O’Connor, Romell Seronay, Gisela P. Concepcion, Daniel L. Distel, Margo G. Haygood view the article

Abstract: Marine bivalves of the family Teredinidae (shipworms) are voracious consumers of wood in marine environments. In several shipworm species, dense communities of intracellular bacterial endosymbionts have been observed within specialized cells (bacteriocytes) of the gills (ctenidia). These bacteria are proposed to contribute to digestion of wood by the host. While the microbes of shipworm gills have been studied extensively in several species, the abundance and distribution of microbes in the digestive system have not been adequately addressed. Here we use Fluorescence In-Situ Hybridization (FISH) and laser scanning confocal microscopy with 16S rRNA directed oligonucleotide probes targeting all domains, domains Bacteria and Archaea, and other taxonomic groups to examine the digestive microbiota of 17 specimens from 5 shipworm species (Bankia setacea, Lyrodus pedicellatus, Lyrodus massa, Lyrodus sp. and Teredo aff. triangularis). These data reveal that the caecum, a large sac-like appendage of the stomach that typically contains large quantities of wood particles and is considered the primary site of wood digestion, harbors only very sparse microbial populations. However, a significant number of bacterial cells were observed in fecal pellets within the intestines. These results suggest that due to low abundance, bacteria in the caecum may contribute little to lignocellulose degradation. In contrast, the comparatively high population density of bacteria in the intestine suggests a possible role for intestinal bacteria in the degradation of lignocellulose.

Totopotensamides, polyketide-cyclic peptide hybrids from a mollusk-associated bacterium Streptomyces sp.

Lin Z, Flores M, Forteza I, Henriksen NM, Concepcion GP, Rosenberg G, Haygood MG, Olivera BM, Light AR, Cheatham TE 3rd, Schmidt EW. view the article

Abstract: Two new compounds, the peptide-polyketide glycoside totopotensamide A (1) and its aglycone totopotensamide B (2), were isolated from a Streptomyces sp. cultivated from the gastropod mollusk Lienardia totopotens collected in the Philippines. The compounds contain a previously undescribed polyketide component, a novel 2,3-diaminobutyric acid-containing macrolactam, and a new amino acid, 4-chloro-5,7-dihydroxy-6-methylphenylglycine. The application of Marfey's method to phenylglycine derivatives was explored using quantum mechanical calculations and NMR.
The complete genome of Teredinibacter turnerae T7901: an intracellular endosymbiont of marine wood-boring bivalves (family Teredinidae) 

Joyce C. Yang, A. Scott Durkin, Ramana Madupu, Nathan A. Ekborg, Bernard Henrissat, Sandra Schwartz, Joseph C. Mougous, Chandra S. Pedamallu, Lauren Fields, Amaro E. Trindade-Silva, Carlos A. G. Soares, Sherif Elshahawi, Amro Hanora, Margo G. Haygood, Janos Posfai, Jack Benner, Casey Swaim, John Nove, Brian Anton, Kshitiz Chaudhary, Jeremy Foster, Alex Holman, Sanjay Kumar, Philip A Lessard, Yvette A. Luyten, Barton Slatko, Nicole Wood, Bo Wu, John Zehr, Max Teplitski, Naomi Ward, Jonathan A. Eisen, Jonathan H. Badger, and Daniel L. Distel   view the article on PLoS One

Abstract: Here we report the complete genome sequence of Teredinibacter turnerae T7901. T. turnerae is a marine gamma proteobacterium that occurs as an intracellular endosymbiont in the gills of wood-boring marine bivalves of the family Teredinidae (shipworms). This species is the sole cultivated member of an endosymbiotic consortium thought to provide the host with enzymes, including cellulases and nitrogenase, critical for digestion of wood and supplementation of the host's nitrogen-deficient diet. T. turnerae is closely related to the free-living marine polysaccharide degrading bacterium Saccharophagus degradans str. 2-40 and to as yet uncultivated endosymbionts with which it coexists in shipworm cells. Like S. degradans, the T. turnerae genome encodes a large number of enzymes predicted to be involved in complex polysaccharide degradation (> 100). However, unlike S. degradans, which degrades a broad spectrum (>10 classes) of complex plant, fungal and algal polysaccharides, T. turnerae primarily encodes enzymes associated with deconstruction of terrestrial woody plant material. Also unlike S. degradans, T. turnerae dedicates a large proportion of its genome to genes predicted to function in secondary metabolism. Despite its intracellular niche, the T. turnerae genome lacks many features associated with obligate intracellular existence (e.g. reduced genome size, reduced %G+C, loss of genes of core metabolism) and displays evidence of adaptations common to free-living bacteria (e.g. defense against bacteriophage infection). Thus, the T. turnerae genome provides insights into the range of genomic adaptations associated with intracellular endosymbiosis as well as enzymatic mechanisms relevant to the recycling of plant materials in marine environments and the production of cellulose-derived biofuels.

A New Species of Lienardia (Gastropoda: Conoidea) from the Philippines and the Spratly Islands

Gary Rosenberg and Peter Stahlschmidt (Academy of Natural Sciences, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PAand Institute for Environmental Sciences, University of Koblenz-Landau,Germany)

Abstract: A new species of Lienardia (Conoidea: Clathurellidae) is described from the Philippines and Spratly Islands and compared to L. giliberti Souverbie, 1874, with which it has been confused. The species is routinely found in lumun-lumun nets in the southern Philippines, particularly in the Panglao area, in depths of 50 and HO m. Correlations between radular morphology and shell coloration support maintaining Lienardia and Clathurella as distinct genera.

Molecular phylogeny of Pholadoidea Lamarck, 1809 supports a single origin for xylotrophy (wood feeding) and xylotrophic bacterial endosymbiosis in Bivalvia.
Distel DL, Amin M, Burgoyne A, Linton E, Mamangkey G, Morrill W, Nove J, Wood N, Yang J.  view the article

Abstract: The ability to consume wood as food (xylotrophy) is unusual among animals. In terrestrial environments, termites and other xylotrophic insects are the principle wood consumers while in marine environments wood-boring bivalves fulfill this role. However, the evolutionary origin of wood feeding in bivalves has remained largely unexplored. Here we provide data indicating that xylotrophy has arisen just once in Bivalvia in a single wood-feeding bivalve lineage that subsequently diversified into distinct shallow- and deep-water branches, both of which have been broadly successful in colonizing the world's oceans. These data also suggest that the appearance of this remarkable life habit was approximately coincident with the acquisition of bacterial endosymbionts. Here we generate a robust phylogeny for xylotrophic bivalves and related species based on sequences of small and large subunit nuclear rRNA genes. We then trace the distribution among the modern taxa of morphological characters and character states associated with xylotrophy and xylotrepesis (wood-boring) and use a parsimony-based method to infer their ancestral states. Based on these ancestral state reconstructions we propose a set of plausible hypotheses describing the evolution of symbiotic xylotrophy in Bivalvia. Within this context, we reinterpret one of the most remarkable progressions in bivalve evolution, the transformation of the "typical" myoid body plan to create a unique lineage of worm-like, tube-forming, wood-feeding clams. The well-supported phylogeny presented here is inconsistent with most taxonomic treatments for xylotrophic bivalves, indicating that the bivalve family Pholadidae and the subfamilies Teredininae and Bankiinae of the family Teredinidae are non-monophyletic, and that the principle traits used for their taxonomic diagnosis are phylogenetically misleading.

Pulicatins A-E, neuroactive thiazoline metabolites from cone snail-associated bacteria

Lin Z, Antemano RR, Hughen RW, Tianero MD, Peraud O, Haygood MG, Concepcion GP, Olivera BM, Light A, Schmidt EW.  view the article

Abstract: The cone snail Conus pulicarius from the Philippines provides a specific habitat for actinomycetes and other bacteria. A phenotypic screen using primary cultures of mouse dorsal root ganglion neurons revealed that one C. pulicarius associate, Streptomyces sp. CP32, produces a series of natural products that enhance or diminish whole-cell Ca(2+) flux. These compounds include known thiazoline compounds and a series of new derivatives, pulicatins A-E (6-10). Individual compounds were shown to bind to a series of human receptors, with selective binding to the human serotonin 5-HT(2B) receptor. Here, we report the structure elucidation of the new compounds and results of the neurological assays.


The microniche approach to discovering diverse actinomycete bacteria in cone snails 
Olivier Peraud, Jason S. Biggs, Ronald W. Hughen, Alan R. Light, Gisela P. Concepcion, Baldomero M. Olivera and Eric W. Schmidt

Abstract: Numerous studies have shown that actinomycetes can be symbionts in diverse organisms, including both plants and animals. Some actinomycetes benefit their host by producing small molecule secondary metabolites; the resulting symbioses are often developmentally complex. We examined the actinomycetes associated with three cone snails, venomous tropical marine gastropods which have been extensively examined because of their production of peptide-based neurological toxins but for which no microbiological studies have been reported. We used a microniche approach in which dissected tissue from each snail was treated as an individual sample in order to explore bacterial tissue specificity.Our results revealed a diverse, novel and highly culturable cone snail-associated actinomycete community suggesting that cone snails represent a rich source for discovering new actinomycete symbionts. Additionally, we found evidence that symbiotic actinomycetes are localized to specific cells within cone snails, which could be a possible result of co-evolution.


One, Four or 100 Genera? Classification of the Cone Snails

BC Puillandre, N., Duda, T.F., Jr., Meyer, C.P., Olivera, B.M., and Bouchet, P. In press



Constellation Pharmacology: A new paradigm for drug discovery

DD Teichert, R.W., Schmidt, E.W., and Olivera, B.M., 2014 In press



Seven new species of Thala (Gastropoda: Costellariidae) from the Indo-Pacific

BC Rosenberg, G. and R. Salisbury In press

Abstract:Seven new species of Thala are described: T. abelai and T. merrilli (type locality Guam, Mariana Islands), T. evelynae and T. suduirauti (Philippines), T. kilburni and T. pallida (Bassas da India Reef, Mozambique Channel) and T. ruggeriae (Tanzania) and their geographic ranges established. Lectotypes are selected for T. exilis (Reeve, 1845), T. roseata (A. Adams, 1855), T. fusus (Souverbie, 1876), and T. ogasawarana Pilsbry, 1904, and T. fusus is synonymized with T. mirifica (Reeve, 1845). The range of T. lillicoi Rosenberg & Salisbury, 2007 is extended to Kwajalein from Hawaii. Live animals of six species are illustrated. Microsculpture of 14 species is illustrated with scanning electron microscopy.


Chapter 6: The Molecular Diversity of Conoidean Venom Peptides and their Targets: From Basic Research to Therapeutic Applications. In: Venoms to Drugs

DD Teichert, R.W., Olivera, B.M., McIntosh, J.M., Bulaj, G., Horvath, M.P Accepted



Biodiversity of Cone Snails and other Venomous Marine Gastropods: Evolutionary Success Through Neuropharmacology

BC Olivera, B.M., Showers-Corneli, P., Watkins, M., Fedosov, A. view the article

Abstract:Venomous marine snails (superfamily Conoidea) are a remarkably biodiverse marine invertebrate lineage (featuring more than 10,000 species). Conoideans use complex venoms (up to 100 different components for each species) to capture prey and for other biotic interactions. Molecular phylogeny and venom peptide characterization provide an unusual multidisciplinary view of conoidean biodiversity at several taxonomic levels. Venom peptides diverge between species at an unprecedented rate through hypermutation within gene families. Clade divergence within a genus occurs without recruiting new gene families when a saltatory event, such as colonization of new prey types (e.g., fish), leads to a new radiation. Divergence between genera in the same family involves substantial divergence in gene families. In the superfamily Conoidea, the family groups recruited distinct sets of different venom gene superfamilies. The associated morphological, behavioral, and prey-preference changes that accompany these molecular changes are unknown for most conoidean lineages, except for one genus, Conus, for which many associated phenotypic changes have been documented.


Molecular Phylogeny and Evolution of the Cone Snails (Gastropoda, Conoidea)

BC Puillandre N., Bouchet P., Duda, T. F., Kauferstein, S., Kohn, A. J., Olivera, B.M., Watkins, M., Meyer C. Accepted

Abstract:We present a large-scale molecular phylogeny that includes 320 of the 761 recognized valid species of the cone snails (Conus), one of the most diverse groups of marine molluscs, based on three mitochondrial genes (COI, 16S rDNA and 12S rDNA). This is the first phylogeny of the taxon to employ concatenated sequences of several genes, and it includes more than twice as many species as the last published molecular phylogeny of the entire group nearly a decade ago. Most of the numerous molecular phylogenies published during the last 15years are limited to rather small fractions of its species diversity. Bayesian and maximum likelihood analyses are mostly congruent and confirm the presence of three previously reported highly divergent lineages among cone snails, and one identified here using molecular data. About 85% of the species cluster in the single Large Major Clade; the others are divided between the Small Major Clade (∼12%), the Conus californicus lineage (one species), and a newly defined clade (∼3%). We also define several subclades within the Large and Small major clades, but most of their relationships remain poorly supported. To illustrate the usefulness of molecular phylogenies in addressing specific evolutionary questions, we analyse the evolution of the diet, the biogeography and the toxins of cone snails. All cone snails whose feeding biology is known inject venom into large prey animals and swallow them whole. Predation on polychaete worms is inferred as the ancestral state, and diet shifts to molluscs and fishes occurred rarely. The ancestor of cone snails probably originated from the Indo-Pacific; rather few colonisations of other biogeographic provinces have probably occurred. A new classification of the Conidae, based on the molecular phylogeny, is published in an accompanying paper.


Structure and activity of lobophorins from a turrid mollusk-associated Streptomyces sp.

DD Lin, Z.; Koch, M.; Pond, C.D.; Mabeza, G.; Seronay, R.A.; Concepcion, G.P.; Barrows, L.R.; Olivera, B.M.; Schmidt, E.W. Accepted

Abstract:A novel lumun-lumun sampling methodology was used to obtain a large diversity of micromollusks, including the new species Lienardia totopotens. In turn, from L. totopotens we cultivated a Streptomyces sp. strain that contained new and known spirotetronate polyketides, lobophorins (1–5). The structures were elucidated using spectroscopy, and the compounds were evaluated for cytotoxicity to human cells and activity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Bacillus subtilis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Burkholderia cepacia. Compounds 2–5 showed varying degrees of activity against human cells, M. tuberculosis and B. subtilis in the low μm to mid nm range but were inactive against the other strains, while 1 lacking digitoxose was inactive. Very slight structural changes in 2–5 led to varying antibacterial:cytotoxicity ratios, providing a possible basis to synthesize more selective derivatives.


Neuroactive diol and acyloin metabolites from cone snail-associated bacteria

DD Lin, Z.; Marett, L.; Hughen, R.W.; Flores, M.; Forteza, M.; Ammon, M.A.; Concepcion, G.P.; Espino, S.; Olivera, B.M.; Rosenberg, G.; Haygood, M.G.; Light, A.R.; Schmidt, E.W. view the article

Abstract:The bacterium Gordonia sp. 647W.R.1a.05 was cultivated from the venom duct of the cone snail, Conus circumcisus. The Gordonia sp. organic extract modulated the action potential of mouse dorsal root ganglion neurons. Assay-guided fractionation led to the identification of the new compound circumcin A (1) and 11 known analogs (2-12). Two of these compounds, kurasoin B (7) and soraphinol A (8), were active in a human norepinephrine transporter assay with Ki values of 2575 and 867 nM, respectively. No neuroactivity had previously been reported for compounds in this structural class. Gordonia species have been reproducibly isolated from four different cone snail species, indicating a consistent association between these organisms.


Snail Peptides. In Handbook of Biologically Active Peptides: Venom Peptides.

DD Olivera BM, Imperial J, Concepcion GP view the article

Abstract:Peptides play a crucial role in many physiological processes including actions as neurotransmitters, hormones, and antibiotics. Research has shown their importance in such fields as neuroscience, immunology, pharmacology, and cell biology. The Handbook of Biologically Active Peptides presents, for the first time, this tremendous body of knowledge in the field of biologically active peptides in one single reference. The section editors and contributors represent some of the most sophisticated and distinguished scientists working in basic sciences and clinical medicine. The Handbook of Biologically Active Peptides is a definitive, all-encompassing reference that will be indispensable for individuals ranging from peptide researchers, to biochemists, cell and molecular biologists, neuroscientists, pharmacologists, and to endocrinologists. Chapters are designed to be a source for workers in the field and will enable researchers working in a specific area to examine other related areas with which they would not ordinarily be familiar.


Turnerbactin, a novel triscatecholate siderophore from the shipworm endosymbiont Teredinibacter turnerae T7901

DD Han, A.W., M. Sandy, B. Fishman, A.E. Trindade-Silva, C.A.G. Soares, D.L. Distel, A. Butler, M.G. Haygood. view the article

Abstract:Shipworms are marine bivalve mollusks (Family Teredinidae) that use wood for shelter and food. They harbor a group of closely related, yet phylogenetically distinct, bacterial endosymbionts in bacteriocytes located in the gills. This endosymbiotic community is believed to support the host's nutrition in multiple ways, through the production of cellulolytic enzymes and the fixation of nitrogen. The genome of the shipworm endosymbiont Teredinibacter turnerae T7901 was recently sequenced and in addition to the potential for cellulolytic enzymes and diazotrophy, the genome also revealed a rich potential for secondary metabolites. With nine distinct biosynthetic gene clusters, nearly 7% of the genome is dedicated to secondary metabolites. Bioinformatic analyses predict that one of the gene clusters is responsible for the production of a catecholate siderophore. Here we describe this gene cluster in detail and present the siderophore product from this cluster. Genes similar to the entCEBA genes of enterobactin biosynthesis involved in the production and activation of dihydroxybenzoic acid (DHB) are present in this cluster, as well as a two-module non-ribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS). A novel triscatecholate siderophore, turnerbactin, was isolated from the supernatant of iron-limited T. turnerae T7901 cultures. Turnerbactin is a trimer of N-(2,3-DHB)-L-Orn-L-Ser with the three monomeric units linked by Ser ester linkages. A monomer, dimer, dehydrated dimer, and dehydrated trimer of 2,3-DHB-L-Orn-L-Ser were also found in the supernatant. A link between the gene cluster and siderophore product was made by constructing a NRPS mutant, TtAH03. Siderophores could not be detected in cultures of TtAH03 by HPLC analysis and Fe-binding activity of culture supernatant was significantly reduced. Regulation of the pathway by iron is supported by identification of putative Fur box sequences and observation of increased Fe-binding activity under iron restriction. Evidence of a turnerbactin fragment was found in shipworm extracts, suggesting the production of turnerbactin in the symbiosis.


Adaptive radiation of venomous marine snail lineages and the accelerated evolution of venom peptide genes.

BC Olivera, B.M. M. Watkins, P. Bandyopadhyay, J. S. Imperial, E. P. Heimer de la Cotera, M. B Aguilar, E. López Vera, G. P. Concepcion, and A. Lluisma.view the article

Abstract:An impressive biodiversity (>10,000 species) of marine snails (suborder Toxoglossa or superfamily Conoidea) have complex venoms, containing ca. 100 biologically active, disulfide-rich peptides. In the genus Conus, the most intensively investigated toxoglossan lineage (~500 species), a small set of venom gene superfamilies undergo rapid sequence hyperdiversification within their mature toxin regions. Each major lineage of Toxoglossa has its own distinct set of venom gene superfamilies. Two recently identified venom gene superfamilies are expressed in the large Turridae clade, but not in Conus. Thus, as major venomous molluscan clades expand, a small set of lineage specific venom gene superfamilies undergo accelerated evolution. The juxtaposition of extremely conserved signal sequences with hypervariable mature peptide regions is unprecedented and raises the possibility that in these gene superfamilies, the signal sequences are conserved as a result of an essential role they play in enabling rapid sequence evolution of the region of the gene that encodes the active toxin.


A Bacterial Source for Mollusk Pyrone Polyketides.

DD Lin, Z., J. P. Torres, M. A. Ammon, L. Marett, R. W. Teichert, C. A. Reilly, J. C. Kwan, R. W. Hughen, M. Flores, M. D.Tianero, O. Peraud, J. E. Cox, A. R. Light, A. J. L. Villaraza, M. G. Haygood, G. P. Concepcion, B. M. Olivera, and E. W. Schmidt.view the article

Abstract: In the oceans, toxic secondary metabolites often protect otherwise poorly defended, soft-bodied invertebrates such as shell-less mollusks from predation. The origins of these metabolites are largely unknown, but many of them are thought to be made by symbiotic bacteria. In contrast, mollusks with thick shells and toxic venoms are thought to lack these secondary metabolites due to reduced defensive needs. Here, we show that heavily defended cone snails also occasionally contain abundant secondary metabolites, γ-pyrones known as nocapyrones, and that these pyrones are synthesized by symbiotic bacteria. This study shows that symbiotic bacteria can produce metabolites isolated from gastropod mollusks. The symbiotic bacteria, Nocardiopsis alba CR167, are closely related to potentially widespread actinomycetes that we propose to be casual symbionts of invertebrates on land and in the sea. The natural roles of nocapyrones are not known, but they are active in neurological assays at low micromolar levels, revealing that mollusks with external shells are an overlooked source of secondary metabolite diversity.


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