482 Insects and Chemical Ecology: Huge POTENTIAL for NEW NATURAL Product DISCOVERY

Friday, 23 October 2009: 2:05 PM
103-B (Puerto Rico Convention Center)
Aaron Dossey, Ph.D. , Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
            Nearly 1 million insect species have been described.  They utilize many chemical compounds for functions such as defense.  Few studies have explored insects for drugs and human applications.  Advancements in modern analytical chemistry make insects viable for chemical biology and natural product discovery.  Stick insects (or “phasmids”, Order Phasmatodea) produce a chemical spray from glands behind their head when disturbed.  Of ~3,000 species, the spray of only 10 has been published.  These produce 23 compounds and one novel compound, parectadial (from Parectatosoma mocquerysi, Madagascar), which my co-workers and I published in 2007.  My research explores insect natural products and biosynthesis.  Parectadial is cytostatic and cytotoxic at micromolar levels on cell lines in the National Cancer Institute’s 60 line screen.  Additionally, 13C labeling experiments demonstrate that phasmids biosynthesize their defensive compounds de-novo.  Phasmid defense sprays contain proteins which may be biosynthetic enzymes.  Finally, recent data from one species suggests it produces natural products with novel molecular structures.  Others produce compounds unreported from phasmids (unpublished results). 
            This presentation includes:  1) an overview of phasmid chemical defenses, 2) summary of compounds found so far, 3) results on cytotoxic and cytostatic activity of parectadial on cancer cell lines, 4) biosynthesis in phasmid chemical defenses and 5) new compounds from phasmid chemical defenses.