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Aquat Toxicol. 2011 Jul;104(1-2):61-72. doi: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2011.04.001. Epub 2011 Apr 8.

On the origins and biosynthesis of tetrodotoxin.

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School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.


The potent neurotoxin tetrodotoxin (TTX) has been identified from taxonomically diverse marine organisms. TTX possesses a unique cage-like structure, however, its biosynthesis has yet to be elucidated. Biosynthetic studies in the TTX-producing newt Taricha torosa, and in bacterial genera, including Vibrio, have proven inconclusive. Indeed, very few studies have been performed that address the cellular production of TTX. Here we review the sources of TTX described to date and provide evidence for the biosynthesis of TTX by symbiotic microorganisms in higher taxa. Chemical and genetic based biosynthesis studies of TTX undertaken thus far are discussed and we outline approaches which may be useful for expanding upon the current body of knowledge. The complex biosynthesis of structurally similar toxins, that reveal clues into the biosynthetic pathway of TTX, is also presented.

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