A mutant Aspergillus carbonarius selected for temperature tolerance after UV treatment, when grown in shake flasks, produced mycelia bearing yellow pigment. Since the mutant was affected in sterol biosynthetic pathway, the pigment was apparently produced to maintain membrane fluidity and rigidity for growth sustenance in low-pH culture broth. Nuclear magnetic resonance analyses characterizing the pigment as a partially saturated canthaxanthin, containing beta-ionone end rings, suggested its application as a retinoid. When tested for this property in retinoic acid receptor expressing prostate cancer cell line, LNCaP, the fungal partially saturated canthaxanthin induced apoptosis. Low apoptosis percentage in DU145 prostrate cancer cells that does not express functional retinoic acid receptor-beta (RAR-beta) suggested binding specificity of the partially saturated canthaxanthin for RAR-beta.
Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 07/2008; 80(3):467-73. DOI:10.1007/s00253-008-1538-7 · 3.81 Impact Factor