Anticancer properties of Actinomycetes

Actinomycetes are also a type of bacteria having filamentous or rod like shape. Many marine actinomycetes are found to be effective against many forms of cancer.

Thiocoraline is a compound obtained from a marine micro-organism i.e. Micromonospora marina, is found to be effective against colon cancer, lung cancer and melanoma.

Components in Actinomycetes:

Components, that are found in Actinomycetes and have anti-tumor activity, are anthracyclines,  indolocarbazoles, macrolides, enediynes, isoprenoides, non-ribosomal peptides and others.

Many compounds have been derived from type-I polyketides, found in marine actinomycetes, that have antitumor activity.

Mechanism by which the components act as antitumor:

The mechanism by which they exert anti-tumor activity may include one or combination of the followings:

    • Induction of apoptosis through DNA cleavage that is mediated by the inhibition of the enzyme topoisomerase-I or II
    • Hindrance of the key enzymes in signal transduction like proteases or metabolism of cells
    • Mitochondria permeabilization or
    • Inhibition of tumor induced angiogenesis

Anti-tumor drugs from Actinomycetes:

Several clinically useful anti-tumor drugs are produced by Actinomycetes such as

  • Aclarubicin, doxorubicin and daunomycin are produced by anthracyclines
  • Actinomycin-D and bleomycin are produced by peptides
  • Mithramycin is produced by aureolic acids
  • Neocarzinostatin is produced by enediynes
  • Pentostatin is produced by antimetabolites


Olano, C. et. al. (2009). Antitumor Compounds from Marine Actinomycetes. Marine Drugs, 7(2): 210–248.

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