Yeast-based screening of natural product extracts results in the identification of prion inhibitors from a marine sponge

<p>One of the major medical challenges of the twenty-first century is the treatment of incurable and fatal neurodegenerative disorders caused by misfolded prion proteins. Since the discovery of these diseases a number of studies have been conducted to identify small molecules for their treatment, however to date no curative treatment is available. These studies can be highly expensive and time consuming, but more recent experimental approaches indicate a significant application for yeast prions in these studies. We therefore used yeast prions to optimize previous high-throughput methods for the cheaper, easier and more rapid screening of natural extracts. Through this approach we aimed to identify natural yeast-prion inhibitors that could be useful in the development of novel treatment strategies for neurodegenerative disorders. We screened 500 marine invertebrate extracts from temperate waters in Australia allowing the identification of yeast-prion inhibiting extracts. Through the bioassay-driven chemical investigation of an active <i>Suberites</i> sponge extract, a group of bromotyrosine derivatives were identified as potent yeast-prion inhibitors. This study outlines the importance of natural products and yeast prions as a first-stage screen for the identification of new chemically diverse and bioactive compounds.</p>