Development of natural anti-tumor drugs by microorganisms
Discoveries of tumor-resistant pharmacological drugs have mainly resulted from screening of natural products and their analogs. Some are also discovered incidentally when studying organisms. The great biodiversity of microorganisms raises the possibility of producing secondary metabolites (e.g., mevastatin, lovastatin, epothilone, salinosporamide A) to cope with adverse environments. Recently, natural plant pigments with anti-tumor activities such as β-carotene, lycopene, curcumin and anthocyanins have been proposed. However, many plants have a long life cycle. Therefore, pigments from microorganisms represent another option for the development of novel anti-tumor drugs. Prodigiosin (PG) is a natural red pigment produced by microorganisms, i.e., Serratia marcescens and other gram-negative bacteria. The anti-tumor potential of PG has been widely demonstrated. The families of PG (PGs), which share a common pyrrolylpyrromethene (PPM) skeleton, are produced by various bacteria. PGs are bioactive pigments and are known to exert immunosuppressive properties, in vitro apoptotic effects, and in vivo anti-tumor activities. Currently the most common strain used for producing PGs is S. marcescens. However, few reports have discussed PGs production. This review therefore describes the development of an anti-tumor drug, PG, that can be naturally produced by microorganisms, and evaluates the microbial production system, fermentation strategies, purification and identification processes. The application potential of PGs is also discussed.
Journal: Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering - Volume 111, Issue 5, May 2011, Pages 501–511