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Curr Med Chem. 2002 Jan;9(2):229-62.

Okadaic acid, useful tool for studying cellular processes.

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Instituto Universitario de Bio-Orgánica Antonio González , Universidad de La Laguna, Astrofisico Francisco Sánchez 2, 38206 La Laguna, Spain.


One of the most interesting groups of substances of marine origin, from structural and pharmacological points of view are polyether toxins, which generally present a great diversity in size and potent biological activities. The subject of this review is limited to okadaic acid (OA). It was the first example of a group of polyether toxins produced by marine microalgae, which is responsible for the natural phenomena known as Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning, DSP red tides. These toxins are accumulated in the digestive glands of the shellfish with a disastrous effect upon the shellfish industry in many parts of the world. Thus, it has been demonstrated that OA is a highly selective inhibitor of protein phosphatases type 1 (PP1) and 2A (PP2A), subsequently that it causes dramatic increases in phosphorylation of numerous proteins as well as being a potent tumour promoter. For that reason, OA is an extremely useful tool for studying the cellular processes that are regulated by reversible phosphorylation of proteins as signal transduction, cell division and memory.

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