Antibiotics From The Deep | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 86 Issue 4 | p. 57 | Concentrates
Issue Date: January 28, 2008

Antibiotics From The Deep

Department: Science & Technology
Structure of marinopyrrole

A veritable treasure trove of medicinally relevant compounds has once again been found by plumbing the oceans' depths. William Fenical and coworkers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography have identified an unusual pair of antibiotics isolated from bacteria that inhabit ocean sediments. The compounds, dubbed marinopyrrole A (shown) and B, possess an N,C2-linked bispyrrole motif that's never been observed in natural products (Org. Lett., DOI: 10.1021/ol702952n). Postdoc Chambers C. Hughes isolated the chiral molecules as single atropo-enantiomers, suggesting that their biosynthesis involves a critical enzyme-mediated pyrrole coupling. Fenical and his team were able to isomerize marinopyrrole A to its nonnatural atropo-enantiomer by heating it. This enantiomer, along with the natural marinopyrroles, exhibits promising antimicrobial activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. By focusing a synthetic effort on the marinopyrroles' novel bispyrrole structure, Fenical says, chemists might discover new compounds for fighting drug-resistant infections.

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