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Mar Drugs. 2011 Mar 21;9(3):387-446. doi: 10.3390/md9030387.

Mycosporine-like amino acids: relevant secondary metabolites. Chemical and ecological aspects.

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National Institute for Fisheries Research and Development (INIDEP), Paseo Victoria Ocampo Street No. 1, North Pier, B7602HSA, Mar del Plata, Argentina.


Taxonomically diverse marine, freshwater and terrestrial organisms have evolved the capacity to synthesize, accumulate and metabolize a variety of UV-absorbing substances called mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs) as part of an overall strategy to diminish the direct and indirect damaging effects of environmental ultraviolet radiation (UVR). Whereas the enzymatic machinery to synthesize MAAs was probably inherited from cyanobacteria ancestors via the endosymbionts hypothesis, metazoans lack this biochemical pathway, but can acquire and metabolize these compounds by trophic transference, symbiotic or bacterial association. In this review we describe the structure and physicochemical properties of MAAs, including the recently discovered compounds and the modern methods used for their isolation and identification, updating previous reviews. On this basis, we review the metabolism and distribution of this unique class of metabolites among marine organism.


distribution; isolation; metabolism; mycosporine-like amino acids; physicochemical properties

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