Discovery and synthesis of bioactive natural product probes from marine systems
Stout, Elizabeth Paige
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Flora and fauna from terrestrial and marine environments provide libraries of natural compounds for drug discovery. The last four decades have seen major advances in ocean exploration that have allowed chemists and biologists to explore previously inaccessible and rare marine organisms. The study of under-explored marine organisms can result in the discovery of structurally novel and unusual natural products with drug potential. Prior to 2005, no natural products had been reported from the Fijian red macroalgae Callophycus serratus or Neurymenia fraxinifolia. As a result of the work described in this thesis and others in the same research group, 33 unique brominated meroditerpenes have been isolated and elucidated alpha-pyrone natural products were discovered from N. fraxinifolia, enriching the natural product library for drug development. Several natural products isolated from C. serratus exhibited sub-micromolar inhibition against the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, including a drug-resistant strain. Derivatization of the natural product bromophycolide A into fluorescent probes allowed the determination of a non-enzymatic mechanism of action against the human malaria parasite P. falciparum. Through a combination of detailed SAR mapping, molecular fluorescent imaging of live cells, UV-vis spectroscopic analyses, and protein affinity techniques, the mechanism of action of bromophycolide A against P. falciparum was determined to involve inhibition of heme crystallization. These studies identify a new class of natural products that target heme detoxification in both drug-sensitive and drug-resistant P. falciparum and suggest an avenue to circumvent drug resistance.