Metabolites of endophytic fungi from Australian native plants as potential anticancer agents

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Interest in endophytes as natural sources for new medicines was inspired by the discovery of paclitaxel-producing endophytic fungi. This study investigated the anti-cancer activity of extracts of endophytes isolated from two Australian plants, Eremophila longifolia (EL) and Eremophila maculata (EM). Endophytes were isolated from surface-sterilised leaf tissue, grown as pure cultures and identified by sequencing of Internal Transcribed Spacer (ITS) regions of the ribosomal DNA. To determine cytotoxicity, two leukaemic (MOLT-4, T-cell leukaemia; PreB-697, Pre-B leukaemia), a lung cancer cell line (A549) and a normal human fibroblast cell line were treated with endophyte extracts to assess cytotoxicity in relation to alternariol monomethyl ether (AME) and alternariol (AOH). Endophyte extracts that showed cell cytotoxicity were analysed by UV-HPLC to determine the metabolites. Pure AME and AOH, three extracts form Alternaria sp. (EM-6, EM-7 and EM-9) and one from Preussia minima (EL-14) were cytotoxic to the cancer cell lines. All cytotoxic endophytes contained AME and AOH, the most cytotoxic endophyte EM-6 also contained two unique peaks. These data indicate that these four endophyte extracts may have anti-cancer properties due to the presence of AME and AOH; however, the unique compounds found in the EM-6 extract may be exclusively cytotoxic and warrant further investigation.

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