Scientists have found the mechanism of action of a natural product known to be toxic to cancer cells. The research, reported in the December issue of Nature Chemical Biology, shows that a toxin called bistramide A prevents cells from dividing properly by targeting their actin cytoskeleton.
Sea squirts (Lissoclinum bistratum) are invertebrate marine animals that produce bistramides as a by-product of metabolism. Bistramide A has various toxic effects on the cells of mammals ranging from frogs to humans. To determine the mechanism of this toxicity, Sergey Kozmin and colleagues looked at the contractile ring of cells, a bundle of actin polymers that provide the mechanical force to pinch cells apart during cell division. They found that by binding to actin, bistramide A prevented cells from splitting apart during division. By blocking cell division, bistramide A blocks the multiplication of cells.
Besides increasing our knowledge of the toxic metabolite, this research suggests a way to block cell division in rapidly multiplying cancer cells.
Sergey Kozmin (University of Chicago, IL, USA)
Abstract available online: Kozmin Paper.
(C) Nature Chemical Biology press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza
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