Microbial natural products: Molecular blueprints for antitumor drugs

Lesley Ann Giddings, Leidos Inc.
David J. Newman, Leidos Inc.


Microbes from two of the three domains of life, the Prokarya, and Eukarya, continue to serve as rich sources of structurally complex chemical scaffolds that have proven to be essential for the development of anticancer therapeutics. This review describes only a handful of exemplary natural products and their derivatives as well as those that have served as elegant blueprints for the development of novel synthetic structures that are either currently in use or in clinical or preclinical trials together with some of their earlier analogs in some cases whose failure to proceed aided in the derivation of later compounds. In every case, a microbe has been either identified as the producer of secondary metabolites or speculated to be involved in the production via symbiotic associations. Finally, rapidly evolving next-generation sequencing technologies have led to the increasing availability of microbial genomes. Relevant examples of genome mining and genetic manipulation are discussed, demonstrating that we have only barely scratched the surface with regards to harnessing the potential of microbes as sources of new pharmaceutical leads/agents or biological probes. © 2013 Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology (Outside the USA).