On ovothiol biosynthesis and biological roles: from life in the ocean to therapeutic potential
Covering: up to 2018
Ovothiols are sulfur-containing natural products biosynthesized by marine invertebrates, microalgae, and bacteria. These compounds are characterized by unique chemical properties suggestive of numerous cellular functions. For example, ovothiols may be cytoprotectants against oxidative stress, serve as building blocks of more complex structures and may act as molecular messengers for inter- and intracellular signaling. Detailed understanding of ovothiol physiological role in marine organisms may unearth novel concepts in cellular redox biochemistry and highlight the therapeutic potential of this antioxidant. The recent discovery of ovothiol biosynthetic genes has paved the way for a systematic investigation of ovothiol-modulated cellular processes. In this highlight we review the early research on ovothiol and we discuss key questions that may now be addressed using genome-based approaches. This highlight article provides an overview of recent progress towards elucidating the biosynthesis, function and potential application of ovothiols.