Mycosporines and mycosporine-like amino acids: UV protectants or multipurpose secondary metabolites?

Aharon Oren*, Nina Gunde-Cimerman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

363 Scopus citations

Abstract

Mycosporines and mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs) are low-molecular-weight water-soluble molecules absorbing UV radiation in the wavelength range 310-365 nm. They are accumulated by a wide range of microorganisms, prokaryotic (cyanobacteria) as well as eukaryotic (microalgae, yeasts, and fungi), and a variety of marine macroalgae, corals, and other marine life forms. The role that MAAs play as sunscreen compounds to protect against damage by harmful levels of UV radiation is well established. However, evidence is accumulating that MAAs may have additional functions: they may serve as antioxidant molecules scavenging toxic oxygen radicals, they can be accumulated as compatible solutes following salt stress, their formation is induced by desiccation or by thermal stress in certain organisms, they have been suggested to function as an accessory light-harvesting pigment in photosynthesis or as an intracellular nitrogen reservoir, and they are involved in fungal reproduction. Here, the evidence for these additional roles of MAAs as 'multipurpose' secondary metabolites is reviewed, with special emphasis on their functions in the microbial world.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalFEMS Microbiology Letters
Volume269
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2007

Keywords

  • Desiccation
  • Mycosporine-like amino acids
  • Oxidative stress
  • Salt stress
  • Sunscreen
  • UV light

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