The CytoLabs Project
Systematic Investigation and Exploitation of Cytochalasans
Cytochalasans are natural products produced by many species of fungi that exhibit profound biological effects on cells. Cytochalasans are known to bind to actin, the key protein component of the eukaryotic cytoskeleton. By inhibiting actin assembly cytochalasans can change the structure and mobility of cells. The CytoLabs project aims to understand these effects in vivo and in vitro, and to produce new and known cytochalasans by chemical synthesis, biosynthetic engineering, and fermentation.
Cytochalasans are also involved in bacterial processes such as biofilm inhibition and some are known to possess antiviral activities. The CytoLabs project therefore also investigates new molecular targets for cytochalasans and the ecological role these compounds have in inter-species interactions. The development of new molecular tools to study these processes in vivo is also underway.