1983 Volume 36 Issue 2 Pages 155-160
From submerged cultures of Lachnella villosa, Lachnella sp. 541, and Peniophora laeta we isolated marasmic acid (1), a metabolite first described from surface cultures of Marasmius conigenus. The sesquiterpenoid exhibits potent antimicrobial and cytotoxic properties. In cells of the ascitic form of Ehrlich carcinoma RNA and DNA syntheses are preferentially inhibited. Marasmic acid inhibits RNA synthesis in isolated nuclei, but does not interfere with the transport of nucleoside precursors into the cells. RNA polymerase II and capping enzyme (mRNA guanylyltransferase), two enzymes of nucleic acid metabolism, are markedly affected after preincubation with marasmic acid. We assume that marasmic acid acts on nucleic acid syntheses by direct inhibition of some of the enzymes involved. This mode of action would also explain its mutagenic properties.
The preparation and testing of two derivatives, 2 and 3, revealed that the α, β-unsaturated aldehyde is essential for the antimicrobial and cytotoxic activity of marasmic acid.