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Review | Special issue | Vol 74, No. 1, 2007, pp.53-88
Published online, 26th October, 2007
DOI: 10.3987/REV-07-SR(W)2
Bioactive Nitrogenous Metabolites from Ascidians

Weifang Wang and Michio Namikoshi*

*Department of Natural Product Chemistry, Tohoku College of Pharmacy, 4-4-1 Komatsushima, Aoba-ku, Sendai 981-8558, Japan


Ascidians (class Ascidiacea) belong to the subphylum Urochordata (Tunicata) and are generally called as tunicates because the body is covered by tunic, a sack-like case, or sea squirts since they spurt water when disturbed. Nitrogenous secondary metabolites form more than 80% of new natural products obtained from ascidians and showed a wide variety of bioactivities. This review describes the structures and bioactivities of major classes of unique nitrogenous ascidian metabolites: cyclic peptides, in which aplidine is in the Phase II clinical trials, pyridoacridine alkaloids, β-carboline alkaloids, lamellarins and related pyrrole alkaloids, ecteinascidins (ETs, ET 743 completed the Phase III clinical trials), diterpene and steroidal alkaloids, and polysulfur alkaloids.