The Chloroplast: From Molecular Biology to Biotechnology (Nato Science Partnership Subseries: 3)

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Other molluscs, the opisthobranchs, are only partially protected by the shell. They were successful in their survival by constructing a very effective arsenal of chemical weapons either sequestered from the organisms upon which they feed or biosynthesized by themselves.


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  4. Faulkner, Prof. Fenical and Prof. Scheuer attracted the attention of the scientific community with their exciting pioneering studies on opisthobranchs. Since then, many groups have worked on this topic. The studies have moved slightly from chemical ecology, to advanced biochemistry and applied biotechnology. Many intriguing molecules have been isolated from molluscs and some of them are now in an advanced clinical phase.

    Three of the five PharmaMar compounds, at present tested in human clinical trials, were detected by studying marine molluscs. Organisms from all seas are treated with the exception of those recently reviewed from the Mediterranean Sea. An explicative guide could be useful to the reader to navigate through the volume.

    Chloroplasts - Structure

    Darias reports a comprehensive overview of the bioactive molecules from pulmonate gastropods. The subsequent chapters deal exhaustively with molluscs from distinct geographical areas, i. Some relevant specific topics are reported by Kamiya bioactive proteins , Matsunaga trisoxazole macrolides , and Proksch alkaloids. The two following chapters describe biosynthetic studies on molluscs from the West coast of North America Andersen and from Mediterranean littorals Fontana and introduce one of the most intriguing topics exhibited by opisthobranchs: the ability to construct de novo their bioactive compounds.

    At present, outstanding groups in the world are very active in the synthesis of molecules isolated from molluscs.

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    However, this interesting topic is only partially treated here. The synthesis of peptides and depsipetides Spinella has been selected due to the very promising antitumor activity of these molecules. Finally, some potent anticancer agents in clinical trials are described in the last chapter Cuevas. Kenneth L. Rinehart, Prof. Guido Sodano and Prof. Salvatore De Stefano.

    The outstanding scientific activity of K. Here, we want to remember that the first work of our group and many other studies on opisthobranchs were carried out thanks to the valuable contribution of our colleagues and friends Guido and Salvatore. De Stefano and Prof.

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    Sodano Acknowledgements. We are deeply grateful to Mr. Raffaele Turco for his precious help in the editing work of this book. Preface by the Series Editor Life originated in the oceans and has evolved there over a much longer time than on land, so the diversity of life in marine habitats is far greater than its terrestrial counterpart.

    The first living organisms appeared in the sea more than million years ago and evolutionary development has equipped many marine organisms with the appropriate mechanisms to survive in a hostile milieu in terms of extreme temperatures, changes in salinity and pressure, as well as overcoming the effects of mutation, or bacterial and viral pathogens. The diversity in species is extraordinarily rich not only in coral reefs but also in other almost undisturbed natural marine habitats. Marine organisms have developed exquisitely complex biological mechanisms showing cross-phylum activity with terrestrial biota.

    In terms of evolution and biodiversity, the sea appears to be superior to the terrestrial ecosystem and marine species comprise approximately half of the total biodiversity, thus offering a vast source from which to discover useful therapeutics. Several marine organisms are sessile and soft bodied. The question thus arises: how do these delicate-looking simple sea creatures protect themselves from predators and pathogens in the marine environment? While answering this interesting ecological question, researchers found that marine organisms have chemical defensive weapons secondary metabolites for their protection.

    Outstanding taxa that are extremely rich in those bioactive secondary metabolites are the mollusks. Intensive evolutionary pressure from competitors, that threaten by overgrowth, poisoning, infection, or predation, has armed these organisms with an arsenal of potent chemical defense agents. They have developed the ability to synthesize such chemical weapons or to obtain them from marine microorganisms. Those compounds help them to deter predators, keep competitors at bay, or paralyze their prey.

    Investigations in the field of chemical ecology have revealed that the secondary metabolites not only play various roles in the metabolism of the producer but also in their strategies in the given environment. The diversity of secondary metabolites produced by marine organisms has been highlighted in several reviews and now comprehensively in this monograph. They range from derivatives of amino acids and nucleosides, macrolides, porphyrins, terpenoids, to aliphatic cyclic peroxides and sterols. There is ample evidence documenting the role of these metabolites in chemical defense against predators and epibionts.

    The studies on marine chemical ecology in mollusks cover three different aspects. Firstly, the diversity of chemical compounds produced by different organisms; secondly, the potential functions of these metabolites in nature: and finally, the strategies for their use for human benefit.

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    VIII Preface It is the merit of one of the most efficient experts working in the field of marine natural products, Prof. Guido Cimino Napoli , to have called together prominent colleagues working in the field of natural products from mollusca to highlight and push forward research on bioactive secondary compounds from these animals. Guido Cimino is a pioneer who succeeded in establishing that various patterns in the evolution of chemical defense exist, including detoxification, modification, and sequestration of metabolites and the positioning of those in places where they will effectively repel predators.

    I am sure that this monograph will be a platform for future successful developments in this field. Werner E. Mankind has always been very dependent on the sea, but the discovery of a new source of medicines in the organisms living in the oceans has opened up an enormously interesting new frontier. We founded PharmaMar in to explore this new frontier. Today, I am even more convinced of the potential of marine organisms as a source of medicines, since the company has five marine anticancer compounds undergoing clinical trials, with more than cancer patients treated so far.

    It is relevant in the context of this book that three of these molecules have been isolated from molluscs or derived from those present in molluscs, to which this volume is dedicated. I would also like to express my recognition to the scientists working in marine organic chemistry who contributed to the discovery of those antitumour molecules, which are derived from molluscs that are in clinical trials: Professor Paul J.

    Simple statistical models predict C-to-U edited sites in plant mitochondrial RNA

    And, for the treatment of chronic pain, the conotoxin Prialt, which was discovered by Dr. Baldomero Oliveira and his colleagues from the neogastropoda Conus magus, also deserves consideration. I shall also take this opportunity to say a few words about Ken Rinehart, who passed away a few months ago.

    It goes without saying that Ken Rinehart was one of the most productive scientists researching marine organic chemistry, and a point of reference that we will all sorely miss in the future. I regret that he did not live to see ecteinascidin— ET , which was discovered by his group, commercialised for the treatment of certain cancers, such as ovarian cancer or sarcomas.

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    When these new treatments become available, I hope in the near future, they will represent a legacy from Ken to the scientific community Ken Rinehart was for many years a member of the PharmaMar Board of Directors. He was also the person who selected the name PharmaMar for our company. Throughout the years, he served on many scientific committees where strategic decisions were made, and participated in Foreword X several PharmaMar scuba diving expeditions. We very much enjoyed having him so involved with our company.

    Ken will always be with us. Rinehart Foreword 2 Molluscs are the largest of all marine invertebrate groups, consisting of gastropods, bivalves, scaphopods, cephalopods, aplacophorans, monoplacophorans, and polyplacophorans, many of which have been widely used as food by humans.

    On the other hand, shells of gastropods and bivalves have been used for making tools and ornaments. Molluscs have been overlooked as biotechnological resources, except for Tyrian purple or royal purple , a brilliant dye derived from gastropods of the superfamily Muricacea used in the eastern Mediterranean and in China.

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