Structure Elucidation and Biological Evaluation of a Novel Steroidal Saponin, Cholestanol Glucoside Isolated from Saraca Asoca Enodophytic Fuungus, Lasiodiplodia Theobromae
Valayil, Jinu Mathew
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Although the molecular mechanisms underlying the onset and progression of cancer has been unraveled to a great extend, cancer continues to remain a leading cause of death around the world. Clinical efficacy of the existing anticancer drugs are largely compromised by the inherent and acquired resistance of cancer cell types and the severe side effects evoked by chemotherapeutic agents. Hence, the search for novel anticancer drugs with minimum side effects remains an active area of cancer research. Although molecular targeted drugs are preferred over the conventional cytotoxic chemotherapy, the screening of natural compounds with cytotoxic potentialities continues as they can serve as lead structures for the development of tumor selective anticancer drugs. Plants and microorganisms have been the prominent sources of therapeutic agents. Microorganisms being readily renewable, inexhaustible sources of diverse bioactive secondary metabolites are preferred over plants as sources of bioactive compounds. Endophytes are microorganisms that reside within the living tissue of host plant and they enhance the survival value of the host plant by mediating various stress tolerance mechanisms. Endophytic fungi have gained attention as potential sources of bioactive secondary metabolites following the discovery of a taxol producing endophytic fungus Taxomyces adrenae, from Taxus brevifolia. Moreover, endophytes occupy a unique biological niche in which they maintain a balanced interaction with the host organism and other co-inhabiting microorganisms. All these factors contribute to the chemical diversity of the metabolites they produce. Plants restricted to extreme or unique habitats or those with ethnobotanical value are likely to lodge endophytes that possess a unique hoard of secondarymetabolites. Saraca asoca is a traditionalmedicinal plant with its occurrence restricted to countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Burma and Malaysia. The purpose of the present study is to explore the endophytic fungal population associated with S. asoca in search of novel anticancer lead structures. S. asoca was found to house a diverse endophytic fungal population belonging to 37 different species. Identification of the fungal isolates was based on ITS (internal transcribed spacer region) sequence analysis as well as colony and spore characteristics. The organic extracts of all fungal species were assessed for their in vitro cytotoxicities in three human cancer cell lines, HeLa, HepG2 and PC3 byMTT assay. 18 species exhibited remarkable cytotoxic activities, among which Pestalotiopsis sp. 6 exhibited themost significant cytotoxicity. The strain with second highest activity was Lasiodiplodia theobromae. In order to identify the active principle present in the organic extracts of Pestalotiopsis sp. 6 and L. theobromae, the organic extracts were chromatographed on TLC plates and individual compounds were recovered by scraping off from the TLC plates and extracting with methanol. The cytotoxicity assay of the TLC purified compounds suggested the cytotoxic activity of Pestalotiopsis sp.6 to be a synergetic effect of two or more compounds whereas the cytotoxicity of L. theobromae organic extract was largely due to a single compound. Hence the active principle present in L. theobromae organic extract was purified by bioassay - guided column chromatography. Repeated chromatography of the crude extract using three silica gel columns resulted in the isolation of anticancer compound. Based on the analysis of ESI-MS, IR, NMR and UV spectral data, the isolated compound was identified as a novel steroidal saponin, cholestan-3-O-¯-Dglucopyranoside (cholestanol glucoside - CG). The in vitro cytotoxic effects of CG towards seven human cancer cell lines, HeLa, HepG2, PC3, U251,MCF 7, OVCAR3 and A549 were examined. Among the cell lines screened, HeLa cells weremost vulnerable to CG treatment, with an IC50 value of 3.2 ¹M. Hence themode of cell death induction in HeLa cells by CG was further investigated. Analysis of cell cycle progression by propidium iodide (PI) staining revealed that CG arrests the cells in S phase of cell cycle prior to the induction of cell death. The morphological and biochemical features of apoptosis were investigated by nuclear staining, DNA fragmentation assay and Annexin V-FITC/ PI dual staining. All these results suggested that CG effectively induced apoptosis in HeLa cells in a concentration dependent manner. It was also found that CG treatment induced remarkable ROS generation and mitochondrial membrane potential loss. The pretreatment of cells with an antioxidant, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), blocked CG induced ROS generation, mitochondrialmembrane depolarization and apoptotic cell death. Hence it could be concluded that CG kills the cancer cells by augmenting their basal oxidative stress and hence is less likely to be toxic to normal cells. Moreover, a high Bax to Bcl-2 ratio, high levels of Apaf-1 and p53, activation of procaspase-3 and procaspase-9 and cleavage of PARP were observed in CG treated HeLa cells. Taken together, our results suggested that CG induced apoptosis in HeLa cells via ROS mediated mitochondria dependent pathway. Biosynthesis of secondarymetabolites by filamentous fungi is influenced by the availability of nutrient factors. Therefore, it is essential to optimize the culturemedium components to ensure a maximum and consistent yield of desired metabolite by the fungal isolate. We designed a chemically defined production medium for CG production by L. theobromae. Carbon source, nitrogen source and microelements in the production medium were further optimized in stationary flask cultures to improve the mycelial growth and yield of CG by L. theobromae. The conventional one-factor at a time (OFAT)method was employed for the optimization of carbon and nitrogen sourceswhose contribution effects towards the final yield are large. Response surface methodology (RSM) was employed for the optimization of microelements. Optimization of culturemedium enhanced the yield of CG from 10mg L¡1 to 50mg L¡1. Various secondarymetabolites are produced by organisms in response to different stress conditions. This knowledge has been exploited in plant cell culture systems to increase the yield of particular secondary metabolites by artificial implementation of stress conditions. We investigated the effect of oxidative, osmotic and heat shock stresses on the production of CG by L. theobromae. Heat shock and osmotic stresses in liquid cultures were found to enhance the yield of CG by 1.2-fold, relative to the controls. Oxidative stress by both menadione and H2O2 enhanced the yield by 1.8-fold compared to the controls. Thus oxidative stress proved to be an efficient enhancer of CG production by L. theobromae. These findings ensure a large scale, cost-effective production of CG.
- Biochemistry (BC)