marinedrugs-20-00453-v3.pdf (2.44 MB)

Structural characterization of maitotoxins produced by toxic Gambierdiscus species

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posted on 2023-05-10, 07:47 authored by Sam Murray, Sarah FinchSarah Finch, Elizabeth Mudge, Alistair Wilkins, Jonathan Puddick, Tim Harwood, Lesley Rhodes, Roel van Ginkel, Frode Rise, Michele Prinsep
Identifying compounds responsible for the observed toxicity of the Gambierdiscus species is a critical step to ascertaining whether they contribute to ciguatera poisoning. Macroalgae samples were collected during research expeditions to Rarotonga (Cook Islands) and North Meyer Island (Kermadec Islands), from which two new Gambierdiscus species were characterized, G. cheloniae CAWD232 and G. honu CAWD242. Previous chemical and toxicological investigations of these species demonstrated that they did not produce the routinely monitored Pacific ciguatoxins nor maitotoxin-1 (MTX-1), yet were highly toxic to mice via intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection. Bioassay-guided fractionation of methanolic extracts, incorporating wet chemistry and chromatographic techniques, was used to isolate two new MTX analogs; MTX-6 from G. cheloniae CAWD232 and MTX-7 from G. honu CAWD242. Structural characterization of the new MTX analogs used a combination of analytical chemistry techniques, including LC–MS, LC–MS/MS, HR–MS, oxidative cleavage and reduction, and NMR spectroscopy. A substantial portion of the MTX-7 structure was elucidated, and (to a lesser extent) that of MTX-6. Key differences from MTX-1 included monosulfation, additional hydroxyl groups, an extra double bond, and in the case of MTX-7, an additional methyl group. To date, this is the most extensive structural characterization performed on an MTX analog since the complete structure of MTX-1 was published in 1993. MTX-7 was extremely toxic to mice via i.p. injection (LD50 of 0.235 µg/kg), although no toxicity was observed at the highest dose rate via oral administration (155.8 µg/kg). Future research is required to investigate the bioaccumulation and likely biotransformation of the MTX analogs in the marine food web.


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Journal title

Marine Drugs




Murray, J. S., Finch, S. C., Mudge, E. M., Wilkins, A. L., Puddick, J., Harwood, D. T., Rhodes, L. L., van Ginkel, R., Rise, F., & Prinsep, M. R. (2022). Structural characterization of maitotoxins produced by toxic Gambierdiscus species. Marine Drugs, 20(7), 453.