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Published in: Current Opinion in Biotechnology, vol. 21, issue 6, 2010.


Coral animals harbor diverse microorganisms in their tissues, including archaea, bacteria, viruses, and Bryostatins are a family of protein kinase C modulators that have potential applications in biomedicine. Found in miniscule quantities in a small marine invertebrate, lack of supply has hampered their development. In recent years, bryostatins have been shown to have potent bioactivity in the central nervous system, an uncultivated marine bacterial symbiont has been shown to be the likely natural source of the bryostatins, the bryostatin biosynthetic genes have been identified and characterized, and bryostatin analogues with promising biological activity have been developed and tested. Challenges in development of bryostatins for biomedical and biotechnological application include the cultivation of the bacterial symbiont and heterologous expression of bryostatin biosynthesis genes. Continued exploration of the biology and the symbiotic origin of the bryostatins presents promising opportunities for discovery of additional bryostatins, and new functions for bryostatins.