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1.  Toxins in Botanical Dietary Supplements: Blue Cohosh Components Disrupt Cellular Respiration and Mitochondrial Membrane Potential 
Journal of natural products  2013;77(1):111-117.
Certain botanical dietary supplements have been associated with idiosyncratic organ-specific toxicity. Similar toxicological events, caused by drug-induced mitochondrial dysfunction, have forced the withdrawal or U.S. FDA “Black Box” warnings of major pharmaceuticals. To assess the potential mitochondrial liability of botanical dietary supplements, extracts from 352 authenticated plant samples used in traditional Chinese, Ayurvedic, and Western herbal medicine were evaluated for the ability to disrupt cellular respiration. Blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) methanol extract exhibited mitochondriotoxic activity. Used by some U.S. midwives to help induce labor, blue cohosh has been associated with perinatal stroke, acute myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, multiple organ injury, and neonatal shock. The potential link between mitochondrial disruption and idiosyncratic herbal intoxication prompted further examination. The C. thalictroides methanol extract and three saponins, cauloside A (1), saponin PE (2), and cauloside C (3) exhibited concentration- and time-dependent mitochondriotoxic activities. Upon treatment, cell respiration rate rapidly increased and then dramatically decreased within minutes. Mechanistic studies revealed that C. thalictroides constituents impair mitochondrial function by disrupting membrane integrity. These studies provide a potential etiological link between this mitochondria-sensitive form of cytotoxicity and idiosyncratic organ damage.
doi:10.1021/np400758t
PMCID: PMC3932489  PMID: 24328138
2.  Structures and Potential Antitumor Activity of Sesterterpenes from the Marine Sponge Hyrtios communis (Carter, 1885) 
Journal of natural products  2013;76(8):10.1021/np400350k.
The extract of marine sponge Hyrtios communis (Carter, 1885) (Order Dictyoceratida, Family Thorectidae) was found to inhibit activation of the transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) in T47D human breast tumor cells. Bioassay-guided isolation led to the identification of six new (1–6) and five previously reported (7–11) sesterterpene analogues and two unrelated sesterterpenes. Two new sesterterpenes, thorectidaeolide A (1) and 4-acetoxythorectidaeolide A (2), and luffariellolide (11) were among the most potent inhibitors of hypoxia (1% O2)-induced HIF-1 activation (IC50 values 3.2, 3.5, and 3.6 μM, respectively). Luffariellolide (11) exhibited a significant level of cytotoxicity that mirrored its HIF-1 inhibitory activity. Neither 1, nor 2, or any of the other less active sesterterpenes suppressed breast tumor T47D or MDA-MB-231 cell viability.
doi:10.1021/np400350k
PMCID: PMC3809078  PMID: 23944963
3.  Inducers of Hypoxic Response: Marine Sesquiterpene Quinones Activate HIF-1 
Journal of natural products  2013;76(6):1175-1181.
The hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) transcription factor regulates cellular oxygen homeostasis. Agents that activate HIF-1 and downstream HIF targets represent potential drug leads for the prevention and/or treatment of ischemic disorders. In a search for small-molecule HIF-1 activators, 1936 marine invertebrate and algal extract samples (U.S. National Cancer Institute’s Open Repository) were evaluated for HIF-1 activation activity in a cell-based reporter assay. Bioassay-guided fractionation of two active extracts of the sponge Dactylospongia elegans afforded four new sesquiterpene quinones (2–5), one new sesquiterpene phenol (6), the known Golgi disruptor ilimaquinone (1), and three previously reported ilimaquinone analogues (7–9). While antiproliferative activity was observed at higher concentrations, the sesquiterpene quinones (1–3) possessing a 2-hydroxy-5-methoxy-1,4-benzoquinone moiety activated HIF-1 and increased the expression of HIF-1 target gene vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in T47D cells.
doi:10.1021/np400320r
PMCID: PMC3718637  PMID: 23731014
4.  Comparative Study of Chromatographic Medium-Associated Mass and Potential Antitumor Activity Loss with Bioactive Extracts 
Journal of natural products  2013;76(4):642-647.
Natural product drug discovery programs often rely on the use of silica (Si) gel, reversed- phase media, or size-exclusion resins (e.g., RP-C18, Sephadex LH-20) for compound purification. The synthetic polymer-based sorbent Diaion™ HP20SS (cross-linked polystyrene matrix) is used as an alternative to prepare purified natural product libraries. To evaluate the impact of chromatographic media on the isolation of biologically active, yet chromatographically unstable natural products, Diaion HP20SS was evaluated side-by-side with normal-phase sorbents for irreversible binding of extract constituents and their effects on bioactivity. An array of chemically diverse natural product-rich extracts was selected as a test panel and a cell-based reporter assay for hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) was employed to monitor potential change(s) in bioactivity. Silica gel caused significant irreversible binding of three out of ten extracts. Curcuma longa, Saururus cernuus and Citrus reticulata extracts showed decreased HIF-1 inhibitory activity after elution through Si gel. An additional non-polar column wash of HP20SS with EtOAc retained considerable bioactivities of active extracts. In general, Si gel produced the greatest loss of bioactivity. However, HP20SS elution reduced significantly HIF-1 inhibitory activity of certain extracts (e.g., Asimina triloba).
doi:10.1021/np300858c
PMCID: PMC3683388  PMID: 23441686
5.  The Alternative Medicine Pawpaw and Its Acetogenin Constituents Suppress Tumor Angiogenesis via the HIF-1/VEGF Pathway 
Journal of natural products  2010;73(5):956-961.
Products that contain twig extracts of pawpaw (Asimina triloba, Annonaceae) are widely consumed anticancer alternative medicines. Pawpaw crude extract (CE) and purified acetogenins inhibited hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1)-mediated hypoxic signaling pathways in tumor cells. In T47D cells, pawpaw CE and the acetogenins 10-hydroxyglaucanetin (1), annonacin (2), and annonacin A (3) inhibited hypoxia-induced HIF-1 activation with IC50 values of 0.02 μg/mL, 12 nM, 13 nM, and 31 nM, respectively. This inhibition correlates with the suppression of the hypoxic induction of HIF-1 target genes VEGF and GLUT-1. The induction of secreted VEGF protein represents a key event in hypoxia-induced tumor angiogenesis. Both the extract and the purified acetogenins blocked the angiogenesis-stimulating activity of hypoxic T47D cells in vitro. Pawpaw extract and acetogenins inhibited HIF-1 activation by blocking the hypoxic induction of nuclear HIF-1α protein. The inhibition of HIF-1 activation was associated with the suppression of mitochondrial respiration at complex I. Thus, the inhibition of HIF-1 activation and hypoxic tumor angiogenesis constitutes a novel mechanism of action for these anticancer alternative medicines.
doi:10.1021/np100228d
PMCID: PMC2890309  PMID: 20423107
6.  Semisynthetic Studies Identify Mitochondria Poisons from Botanical Dietary Supplements – Geranyloxycoumarins from Aegle marmelos 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry  2013;21(7):1795-1803.
Bioassay-guided isolation and subsequent structure elucidation of a Bael tree Aegle marmelos lipid extract yielded two unstable acylated geranyloxycoumarin mixtures (1–2), six geranyloxycoumarins (3–8), (+)-9′-isovaleroxylariciresinol (9), and dehydromarmeline (10). In a T47D cell-based reporter assay, 1 and 2 potently inhibited hypoxia-induced HIF-1 activation (IC50 values 0.18 and 1.10 μg mL−1, respectively). Insufficient material and chemical instability prevented full delineation of the fatty acyl side chain olefin substitution patterns in 1 and 2. Therefore, five fatty acyl geranyloxycoumarin ester derivatives (11–15) were prepared from marmin (3) and commercial fatty acyl chlorides by semisynthesis. The unsaturated C-6′ linoleic acid ester derivative 14 that was structurally most similar to 1 and 2, inhibited HIF-1 activation with comparable potency (IC50 0.92 μM). The octanoyl (11) and undecanoyl (12) ester derivatives also suppressed HIF-1 activation (IC50 values 3.1 and 0.87 μM, respectively). Mechanistic studies revealed that these geranyloxycoumarin derivatives disrupt mitochondrial respiration, primarily at complex I. Thus, these compounds may inhibit HIF-1 activation by suppressing mitochondria-mediated hypoxic signaling. One surprising observation was that, while less potent, the purported cancer chemopreventive agent auraptene (8) was found to act as a mitochondrial poison that disrupts HIF-1 signaling in tumors.
doi:10.1016/j.bmc.2013.01.048
PMCID: PMC3602229  PMID: 23434131
Botanical Dietary Supplements; Mitochondrial Poisons; Geranyloxycoumarin; Auraptene; Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1 (HIF-1)
7.  The Caulerpa Pigment Caulerpin Inhibits HIF-1 Activation and Mitochondrial Respiration 
Journal of natural products  2009;72(12):2104-2109.
The transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) represents an important molecular target for anticancer drug discovery. In a T47D cell-based reporter assay, the Caulerpa spp. algal pigment caulerpin (1) inhibited hypoxia-induced as well as 1,10-phenanthroline-induced HIF-1 activation. The angiogenic factor vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is regulated by HIF-1. Caulerpin (10 μM) suppressed hypoxic induction of secreted VEGF protein and the ability of hypoxic T47D cell-conditioned media to promote tumor angiogenesis in vitro. Under hypoxic conditions, 1 (10 μM) blocked the induction of HIF-1α protein, the oxygen-regulated subunit that controls HIF-1 activity. Reactive oxygen species produced by mitochondrial complex III are believed to act as a signal of cellular hypoxia that leads to HIF-1α protein induction and activation. Further mechanistic studies revealed that 1 inhibits mitochondrial respiration at electron transport chain (ETC) complex I (NADH-ubiquinone oxidoreductase). Under hypoxic conditions, it is proposed that 1 may disrupt mitochondrial ROS-regulated HIF-1 activation and HIF-1 downstream target gene expression by inhibiting the transport or delivery of electrons to complex III.
doi:10.1021/np9005794
PMCID: PMC2798910  PMID: 19921787
8.  Lipophilic 2,5-Disubstituted Pyrroles from the Marine Sponge Mycale sp. Inhibit Mitochondrial Respiration and HIF-1 Activation 
Journal of natural products  2009;72(11):1927-1936.
The lipid extract of the marine sponge Mycale sp. inhibited the activation of hypoxiainducible factor-1 (HIF-1) in a human breast tumor T47D cell-based reporter assay. Bioassay-guided isolation and structure elucidation yielded 18 new lipophilic 2,5-disubstituted pyrroles, and eight structurally related known compounds. The active compounds inhibited hypoxia-induced HIF activation with moderate potency (IC50 values < 10 μM). Mechanistic studies revealed that the active compounds suppressed mitochondrial respiration by blocking NADH-ubiquinone oxidoreductase (complex I) at concentrations that inhibited HIF-1 activation. Under hypoxic conditions, reactive oxygen species produced by mitochondrial complex III are believed to act as a signal of cellular hypoxia that leads to HIF-1α protein induction and activation. By inhibiting electron transport (or delivery) to complex III under hypoxic conditions, lipophilic Mycale pyrroles appear to disrupt mitochondrial ROS-regulated HIF-1 signaling.
doi:10.1021/np900444m
PMCID: PMC2868385  PMID: 19845338
9.  Molecular-Targeted Antitumor Agents 15: Neolamellarins from the Marine Sponge Dendrilla nigra Inhibit Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1 (HIF-1) Activation and Secreted Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) Production in Breast Tumor Cells 
Journal of natural products  2007;70(11):1741-1745.
The transcription factor Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1 (HIF-1) has emerged as a major antitumor molecular target. Inhibition of HIF-1 activation has been shown to suppress the growth, survival, and metastatic spread of hypoxic tumors. The NCI Open Repository of marine invertebrates and algae lipid extracts was evaluated for HIF-1 inhibitory activity in a T47D human breast tumor cell-based reporter assay. Bioassay-guided chromatographic separation of the active extract from the sponge Dendrilla nigra produced four new lamellarin-like phenolic pyrroles, which most closely resemble the structure of the known D. cactos compound lamellarin O. However, unlike lamellarins, the structures of neolamellarin A (1), neolamellarin B (2), 5-hydroxyneolamellarin B (3), and 7-hydroxyneolamellarin A (4) lack the carboxyl moiety at position C-2 of the substituted pyrrole ring and have a significantly different pattern of oxidation. Compound 4 was found to inhibit hypoxia-induced HIF-1 activation (IC50 1.9 μM) in T47D cells. Hypoxic induction of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a potent angiogenic factor and HIF-1 target gene, was also inhibited by 4 at the secreted protein level.
doi:10.1021/np070206e
PMCID: PMC2914556  PMID: 17958397
10.  Hypoxia-Selective Antitumor Agents: Norsesterterpene Peroxides from the Marine Sponge Diacarnus levii Preferentially Suppress the Growth of Tumor Cells under Hypoxic Conditions 
Journal of natural products  2007;70(1):130-133.
As part of an ongoing research program to discover natural products that suppress the hypoxia-activated tumor survival pathways, the lipid extract of the Papua New Guinea marine sponge Diacarnus levii was found to suppress hypoxia-induced HIF-1 activation and hypoxic tumor cell survival. Bioassay-guided isolation of D. levii yielded four new norsesterterpene peroxides, diacarnoxides A – D. Diacarnoxide B exhibits a significantly enhanced ability to suppress the growth of tumor cells under hypoxic conditions.
doi:10.1021/np0604883
PMCID: PMC2910712  PMID: 17253866
11.  Laurenditerpenol, a New Diterpene from the Tropical Marine Alga Laurencia intricata Potently Inhibits HIF-1 Mediated Hypoxic Signaling in Breast Tumor Cells 
Journal of natural products  2004;67(12):2002-2007.
The degree of tumor hypoxia correlates with advanced disease stages and treatment resistance. The transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) promotes tumor cell adaptation and survival under hypoxic conditions. Therefore, specific HIF-1 inhibitors represent an important new class of potential tumor-selective therapeutic agents. A T47D human breast tumor cell-based reporter assay was used to examine extracts of plants and marine organisms for inhibitors of HIF-1 activation. Bioassay-guided fractionation of the lipid extract of the red alga Laurencia intricata yielded a structurally novel diterpene laurenditerpenol (1). The structure of 1 was determined spectroscopically. The relative configurations of the substituents of each ring system were assigned based on NOESY correlations. The absolute configurations of positions C-1 was determined by the modified Mosher ester procedure (directly in NMR tubes). Compound 1 potently inhibited hypoxia-activated HIF-1 (IC50: 0.4 μM) and hypoxia-induced VEGF (a potent angiogenic factor) in T47D cells. Compound 1 selectively inhibits HIF-1 activation by hypoxia but not iron chelator induced activation. Further, 1 suppresses tumor cell survival under hypoxic conditions without affecting normoxic cell growth. Compound 1 inhibits HIF-1 by blocking the induction of the oxygen-regulated HIF-1α protein. Mitochondrial respiration studies revealed that 1 suppresses oxygen consumption.
doi:10.1021/np049753f
PMCID: PMC2910713  PMID: 15620241
12.  Benzochromenones from the Marine Crinoid Comantheria rotula Inhibit Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1 (HIF-1) in Cell-Based Reporter Assays and Differentially Suppress the Growth of Certain Tumor Cell Lines 
Journal of natural products  2007;70(9):1462-1466.
Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) is a transcription factor that promotes tumor cell adaptation and survival under hypoxic conditions. HIF-1 is currently recognized as an important molecular target for anti-cancer drug discovery. The NCI Open Repository of marine invertebrates and algae lipid extracts was evaluated using a T47D breast tumor cell-based reporter assay for HIF-1 inhibitory activity. Bioassay-guided fractionation of an active extract from a crinoid Comantheria rotula yielded seven benzo[g]chromen-4-one and benzo[h]chromen-4-one pigments (1–7). The structures of the new benzo[g]chromenone dimer 9,9'-oxybis-neocomantherin (1) and another new natural pigment 5 were deduced from spectroscopic and spectrometric data. The crinoid pigments significantly inhibited both hypoxia-induced and iron chelator-induced HIF-1 luciferase reporter activity in breast and prostate tumor cells. However, inhibition of HIF-1 in the reporter assay did not translate into a significant decrease in expression of the downstream HIF-1 target secreted vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Compound 1 was found to inhibit tumor cell growth in the NCI 60-cell line panel (GI50 values 1.6 to 18.2 μM) and 6 produced a unique pattern of tumor cell growth suppression. Five cell lines from different organs were hypersensitive to 6 (GI50 values 0.29 to 0.62 μM) and three others were moderately sensitive (GI50 values 2.2 to 5.1 μM), while the GI50 values for most other cell lines ranged from 20 to 47 μM. Crinoid benzo[g]chromenones were also found to scavenge radicals in a modified DPPH assay.
doi:10.1021/np070224w
PMCID: PMC2910718  PMID: 17844994
13.  Sodwanone and Yardenone Triterpenes from a South African Species of the Marine Sponge Axinella Inhibit Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1 (HIF-1) Activation in both Breast and Prostate Tumor Cells 
Journal of natural products  2006;69(12):1715-1720.
Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) is a transcription factor that promotes tumor cell adaptation and survival under hypoxic conditions. HIF-1 is currently recognized as an important molecular target for anti-cancer drug discovery. A T47D breast tumor cell-based reporter assay was used to evaluate the NCI Open Repository of marine invertebrates and algae lipid extracts for HIF-1 inhibitory activity. Bioassay-guided fractionation and isolation of an active extract from Axinella sp. yielded seven new sodwanone triterpenoids [3-epi-sodwanone K (1), 3-epi-sodwanone K 3-acetate (2), 10,11-dihydrosodwanone B (4), sodwanones T–W (3, 7, 8, 9), the new yardenone triterpene 12R-hydroxyyardenone (10), and the previously reported compounds sodwanone A (5), sodwanone B (6), and yardenone (11). The structures and relative configurations of these Axinella metabolites were determined spectroscopically. The absolute configuration of 1 was determined by the modified Mosher ester procedure. Sodwanone V (8) inhibited both hypoxia-induced and iron chelator (1,10-phenanthroline)-induced HIF-1 activation in T47D breast tumor cells (IC50 15 μM) and 8 was the only sodwanone that inhibited HIF-1 activation in PC-3 prostate tumor cells (IC50 15 μM). Compounds 1, 3, 4, and 5 inhibited hypoxia-induced HIF-1 activation in T47D cells (IC50 values 20-25 μM). Compound 2 was cytotoxic to T47D cells (IC50 22 μM) and 8 showed cytotoxicity to MDA-MB-231 breast tumor cells (IC50 23 μM).
doi:10.1021/np060278q
PMCID: PMC2908379  PMID: 17190448
14.  Natural Product-Derived Small Molecule Activators of Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1 (HIF-1) 
Current pharmaceutical design  2006;12(21):2673-2688.
Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) is a key mediator of oxygen homeostasis that was first identified as a transcription factor that is induced and activated by decreased oxygen tension. Upon activation, HIF-1 upregulates the transcription of genes that promote adaptation and survival under hypoxic conditions. HIF-1 is a heterodimer composed of an oxygen-regulated subunit known as HIF-1α and a constitutively expressed HIF-1β subunit. In general, the availability and activity of the HIF-1α subunit determines the activity of HIF-1. Subsequent studies have revealed that HIF-1 is also activated by environmental and physiological stimuli that range from iron chelators to hormones. Preclinical studies suggest that HIF-1 activation may be a valuable therapeutic approach to treat tissue ischemia and other ischemia/hypoxia-related disorders.
The focus of this review is natural product-derived small molecule HIF-1 activators. Natural products, relatively low molecular weight organic compounds produced by plants, animals, and microbes, have been and continue to be a major source of new drugs and molecular probes. The majority of known natural product-derived HIF-1 activators were discovered through pharmacological evaluation of specifically selected individual compounds. The combination of natural products chemistry with appropriate high-throughput screening bioassays could provide an alternative approach to discover novel natural product-derived HIF-1 activators. Potent natural product-derived HIF-1 activators that exhibit a low level of toxicity and side effects hold promise as new treatment options for diseases such as myocardial and peripheral ischemia, and as chemopreventative agents that could be used to reduce the level of ischemia/reperfusion injury following heart attack and stroke.
PMCID: PMC2907550  PMID: 16842166
HIF-1; Natural Product; Tissue Ischemia; Therapeutic Angiogenesis; Molecular-Target; Small Molecule Activator; Chemoprevention; Ischemia/Reperfusion Injury
15.  Natural Product-Based Inhibitors of Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1 (HIF-1) 
Current drug targets  2006;7(3):355-369.
The transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) regulates the expression of more than 70 genes involved in cellular adaptation and survival under hypoxic stress. Activation of HIF-1 is associated with numerous physiological and pathological processes that include tumorigenesis, vascular remodeling, inflammation, and hypoxia/ischemia-related tissue damage. Clinical studies suggested that HIF-1 activation correlates directly with advanced disease stages and treatment resistance among cancer patients. Preclinical studies support the inhibition of HIF-1 as a major molecular target for antitumor drug discovery. Considerable effort is underway, in government laboratories, industry and academia, to identify therapeutically useful small molecule HIF-1 inhibitors. Natural products (low molecular weight organic compounds produced by plants, microbes, and animals) continue to play a major role in modern antitumor drug discovery. Most of the compounds discovered to inhibit HIF-1 are natural products or synthetic compounds with structures that are based on natural product leads. Natural products have also served a vital role as molecular probes to elucidate the pathways that regulate HIF-1 activity. Natural products and natural product-derived compounds that inhibit HIF-1 are summarized in light of their biological source, chemical class, ancd effect on HIF-1 and HIF-mediated gene regulation. When known, the mechanism(s) of action of HIF-1 inhibitors are described. Many of the substances found to inhibit HIF-1 are non-druggable compounds that are too cytotoxic to serve as drug leads. The application of high-throughput screening methods, complementary molecular-targeted assays, and structurally diverse chemical libraries hold promise for the discovery of therapeutically useful HIF-1 inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC2908043  PMID: 16515532
HIF-1; Natural Product; Tumor Hypoxia; Molecular-Targeted Drug Discovery; Small Molecule HIF-1 Inhibitor; Hypoxia Selective
16.  The Terpenoid Tetrahydroisoquinoline Alkaloids Emetine, Klugine, and Isocephaeline Inhibit the Activation of Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1 (HIF-1) in Breast Tumor Cells 
Journal of natural products  2005;68(6):947-950.
Klugine (1), isocephaeline (2), and emetine (4) inhibited hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) activation by hypoxia in T47D breast tumor cells (IC50 values 0.2, 1.1, and 0.11 µM, respectively). Compounds 1, 2, and 4 inhibited both hypoxia- and iron chelator-induced HIF-1 activation by blocking HIF-1α protein accumulation.
doi:10.1021/np050029m
PMCID: PMC2907142  PMID: 15974627
17.  Glycolysis Inhibitor Screening Identifies the Bis-geranylacylphloroglucinol Protonophore Moronone from Moronobea coccinea 
Journal of natural products  2012;75(12):2216-2222.
Tumor cells exhibit enhanced glucose consumption and lactate production even when supplied with adequate oxygen (a phenomenon known as the Warburg effect, or aerobic glycolysis). Pharmacological inhibition of aerobic glycolysis represents a potential tumor-selective approach that targets the metabolic differences between normal and malignant tissues. Human breast tumor MDA-MB-231 cells were used to develop an assay system to discover natural product-based glycolysis inhibitors. The assay employed was based on hypersensitivity to glycolytic inhibition in tumor cells treated with the mitochondrial electron transport inhibitor rotenone. Under such conditions, ATP supply, and hence cell viability, depends exclusively on glycolysis. This assay system was used to evaluate 10,648 plant and marine organism extracts from the U.S. National Cancer Institute's Open Repository. Bioassay-guided isolation of an active Moronobea coccinea extract yielded the new bis-geranylacylphloroglucinol derivative moronone (1). Compound 1 exhibited enhanced antiproliferative/cytotoxic activity in the presence of rotenone-imposed metabolic stress on tumor cells. Surprisingly, mechanistic studies revealed that 1 did not inhibit glycolysis, but rather functions as a protonophore that dissipates the mitochondrial proton gradient. In the presence of rotenone, tumor cells may be hypersensitive to protonophores due to increased ATP utilization by the ATP synthase.
doi:10.1021/np300711e
PMCID: PMC3532528  PMID: 23245650
18.  Structures and Mechanisms of Antitumor Agents - Xestoquinones Uncouple Cellular Respiration and Disrupt HIF Signaling in Human Breast Tumor Cells 
Journal of natural products  2012;75(9):1553-1559.
The organic extract of a marine sponge Petrosia alfiani selectively inhibited iron chelator-induced hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) activation in a human breast tumor T47D cell-based reporter assay. Bioassay-guided fractionation yielded seven xestoquinones (1 – 7) including three new compounds 14-hydroxymethylxestoquinone (1), 15-hydroxymethylxestoquinone (2), and 14,15-dihydroxestoquinone (3). Compounds 1 – 7 were evaluated for their effects on HIF-1 signaling, mitochondrial respiration, and tumor cell proliferation/viability. The known metabolites adociaquinones A (5) and B (6), that possess a 3,4-dihydro-2H-1,4-thiazine-1,1-dioxide moiety, potently and selectively inhibited iron chelator-induced HIF-1 activation in T47D cells, each with an IC50 value of 0.2 μM. Mechanistic studies revealed that adociaquinones promote oxygen consumption without affecting mitochondrial membrane potential. Compound 1 both enhances respiration and decreases mitochondrial membrane potential, suggesting that it acts as a protonophore that uncouples mitochondrial respiration.
doi:10.1021/np3002892
PMCID: PMC3482980  PMID: 22938093
19.  Mitochondrial Respiration Inhibitors Suppress Protein Translation and Hypoxic Signaling via the Hyperphosphorylation and Inactivation of Translation Initiation Factor eIF2α and Elongation Factor eEF2 
Journal of natural products  2011;74(9):1894-1901.
Over 20000 lipid extracts of plants and marine organisms were evaluated in a human breast tumor T47D cell-based reporter assay for hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) inhibitory activity. Bioassay-guided isolation and dereplication-based structure elucidation of an active extract from the Bael tree (Aegle marmelos) afforded two protolimonoids, skimmiarepin A (1) and skimmiarepin C (2). In T47D cells, 1 and 2 inhibited hypoxia-induced HIF-1 activation with IC50 values of 0.063 µM and 0.068 µM, respectively. Compounds 1 and 2 also suppressed hypoxic induction of the HIF-1 target genes GLUT-1 and VEGF. Mechanistic studies revealed that 1 and 2 inhibited HIF-1 activation by blocking the hypoxia-induced accumulation of HIF-1α protein. At the range of concentrations that inhibited HIF-1 activation, 1 and 2 suppressed cellular respiration by selectively inhibiting the mitochondrial electron transport chain at complex I (NADH dehydrogenase). Further investigation indicated that mitochondrial respiration inhibitors such as 1 and rotenone induced the rapid hyperphosphorylation and inhibition of translation initiation factor eIF2α and elongation factor eEF2. The inhibition of protein translation may account for the short-term exposure effects exerted by mitochondrial inhibitors on cellular signaling, while the suppression of cellular ATP production may contribute to the inhibitory effects following extended treatment periods.
doi:10.1021/np200370z
PMCID: PMC3179826  PMID: 21875114
20.  Thyrsiferol Inhibits Mitochondrial Respiration and HIF-1 Activation 
Phytochemistry letters  2011;4(2):75-78.
The cytotoxic marine red algal metabolite thyrsiferol (1) was found to inhibit hypoxia-induced hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) activation in T47D human breast tumor cells (66% inhibition at 3 μM). Compound 1 also suppressed hypoxic induction of HIF-1 target genes (VEGF, GLUT-1) at the mRNA level, and displayed tumor cell line-selective time-dependent inhibition of cell viability/proliferation. Mechanistic studies revealed that 1 selectively suppressed mitochondrial respiration at Complex I (IC50 3 μM). Thyrsiferol represents a prototypical, structurally unique electron transport chain inhibitor. The apparent rotenone-like activity may contribute to the observed cytotoxicity of 1 and play an important role in Laurencia chemical defense.
doi:10.1016/j.phytol.2010.09.003
PMCID: PMC3139250  PMID: 21785662
Thyrsiferol; Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1); Laurencia, Triterpene polyether; Marine natural product; Mitochondrial complex I inhibitor; NADH-ubiquinone oxidoreductase
21.  Natural and Semisynthetic Mammea-Type Isoprenlated Dihydroxycoumarins Uncouple Cellular Respiration 
Journal of natural products  2011;74(2):240-248.
In an effort to identify natural product-based molecular-targeted antitumor agents, mammea-type coumarins from the tropical/subtropical plant Mammea americana were found to inhibit the activation of HIF-1 (hypoxia-inducible factor-1) in human breast and prostate tumor cells. In addition to the recently reported mammea E/BB (15), bioassay-guided fractionation of the active extract yielded fourteen mammea-type coumarins including three new compounds mammea F/BB 1 (1), mammea F/BA (2), and C/AA (3). The absolute configuration of C-1′ in 1 was determined by the modified Mosher’s method on a methylated derivative. These coumarins were evaluated for their effects on mitochondrial respiration, HIF-1 signaling, and tumor cell proliferation/viability. Acetylation of 1 afforded a triacetoxylated product (A-2) that inhibited HIF-1 activation with increased potency in both T47D (IC50 0.83 μM for hypoxia-induced) and PC3 cells (IC50 0.94 μM for hypoxia-induced). Coumarins possessing a 6-prenyl-8-(3-methyl-oxobutyl)-substituent pattern exhibited enhanced HIF-1 inhibitory effects. The O-methylated derivatives were less active at inhibiting HIF-1 and suppressing cell proliferation/viability. Mechanistic studies indicate that these compounds act as anionic protonophores that potently uncouple mitochondrial electron transport and disrupt hypoxic signaling.
doi:10.1021/np100762s
PMCID: PMC3045645  PMID: 21214226
22.  Mammea E/BB, An Isoprenylated Dihydroxycoumarin Protonophore that Potently Uncouples Mitochondrial Electron Transport Disrupts Hypoxic Signaling in Tumor Cells 
Journal of Natural Products  2010;73(11):1868-1872.
The mammea-type coumarin mammea E/BB (1) was found to inhibit both hypoxia-induced and iron chelator-induced hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) activation in human breast tumor T47D cells with IC50 values of 0.96 and 0.89 µM, respectively. Compound 1 suppressed the hypoxic induction of secreted VEGF protein (T47D cells) and inhibited cell viability/proliferation in four human tumor cell lines. Compound 1 (at 5 and 20 µM) inhibited human breast tumor MDA-MB-231 cell migration. While the mechanisms that underlay their biological activities have remained unknown, prenylated mammea coumarins have been shown to be cytotoxic to human tumor cells, suppress tumor growth in animal models, and display a wide variety of antimicrobial effects. Mechanistic studies revealed that 1 appears to exert an assemblage of cellular effects by functioning as an anionic protonophore that potently uncouples mitochondrial electron transport and disrupts mitochondrial signaling in human tumor cell lines.
doi:10.1021/np100501n
PMCID: PMC2993771  PMID: 20929261
23.  The Marine Sponge Metabolite Mycothiazole: A Novel Prototype Mitochondrial Complex I Inhibitor 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry  2010;18(16):5988-5994.
A natural product chemistry-based approach was applied to discover small-molecule inhibitors of hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1). A Petrosaspongia mycofijiensis marine sponge extract yielded mycothiazole (1), a solid tumor selective compound with no known mechanism for its cell line-dependent cytotoxic activity. Compound 1 inhibited hypoxic HIF-1 signaling in tumor cells (IC50 1 nM) that correlated with the suppression of hypoxia-stimulated tumor angiogenesis in vitro. However, 1 exhibited pronounced neurotoxicity in vitro. Mechanistic studies revealed that 1 selectively suppresses mitochondrial respiration at Complex I (NADH-ubiquinone oxidoreductase). Unlike rotenone, MPP+, annonaceous acetogenins, piericidin A, and other Complex I inhibitors, mycothiazole is a mixed polyketide/peptide-derived compound with a central thiazole moiety. The exquisite potency and structural novelty of 1 suggest that it may serve as a valuable molecular probe for mitochondrial biology and HIF-mediated hypoxic signaling.
doi:10.1016/j.bmc.2010.06.072
PMCID: PMC2918693  PMID: 20637638
Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1); Marine natural products; Mitochondrial Complex I Inhibitor; NADH-ubiquinone oxidoreductase
24.  Latrunculin A and Its C-17-O-Carbamates Inhibit Prostate Tumor Cell Invasion and HIF-1 Activation in Breast Tumor Cells⊥ 
Journal of natural products  2008;71(3):396-402.
The marine-derived macrolides latrunculins A (1) and B, from the Red Sea sponge Negombata magnifica, have been found to reversibly bind actin monomers, forming a 1:1 complex with G-actin and disrupting its polymerization. The microfilament protein actin is responsible for several essential functions within the cell such as cytokinesis and cell migration. One of the main binding pharmacophores of 1 to G-actin was identified as the C-17 lactol hydroxyl moiety that binds arginine 210 NH. Latrunculin A-17-O-carbamates 2–6 were prepared by reaction with the corresponding isocyanates. Latrunculin A (1) and carbamates 4–6 displayed potent anti-invasive activity against the human highly metastatic human prostate cancer PC-3M cells in a Matrigel™ assay at a concentration range of 50 nM-1 µM. Latrunculin A (1, 500 nM) decreased the disaggregation and cell migration of PC-3M-CT+ spheroids by three-fold. Carbamates 4 and 5 were two and half and five-fold more active than 1, respectively, in this assay with less actin binding affinity. Latrunculin A (1, IC50 6.7 µM) and its 17-O-[N-(benzyl)carbamate (6, IC50 29 µM) suppress hypoxia-induced HIF-1 activation in T47D breast tumor cells.
doi:10.1021/np070587w
PMCID: PMC2930178  PMID: 18298079
25.  Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1 Activation by (−)-Epicatechin Gallate: Potential Adverse Effects of Cancer Chemoprevention with High-Dose Green Tea Extracts 
Journal of natural products  2004;67(12):2063-2069.
Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) is a transcription factor that induces oxygen-regulated genes in response to reduced oxygen conditions (hypoxia). Expression of the oxygen regulated HIF-1α subunit correlates positively with advanced disease stages and poor prognosis in cancer patients. Green tea catechins are believed to be responsible for the cancer chemopreventive activities of green tea. We found that (−)-epicatechin-3-gallate (ECG, 1), one of the major green tea catechins, strongly activates HIF-1 in T47D human breast carcinoma cells. Among the green tea catechins tested, 1 demonstrated the strongest HIF-1 inducing activity while (−)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG, 2), was significantly less active. However, 2 is relatively unstable in the in vitro system studied. Compound 1 also increases the expression of HIF-1 target genes including GLUT-1, VEGF, and CDKN1A. In T47D cells, 1 induces nuclear HIF-1α protein without affecting HIF-1α mRNA. Both the induction of HIF-1α protein and activation of HIF-1 by 1 can be blocked by iron and ascorbate, indicating that 1 may activate HIF-1 through the chelation of iron. These results suggest that intended cancer chemoprevention with high-dose green tea extracts may be compromised, by the ability of tea catechins to promote tumor cell survival pathways associated with HIF-1 activation.
doi:10.1021/np040140c
PMCID: PMC2914555  PMID: 15620252

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