Antiretroviral activity in a marine red alga: reverse transcriptase inhibition by an aqueous extract of Schizymenia pacifica
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An aqueous extract from the marine red alga, Schizymenia pacifica has been tested in a cell free system for its effect on reverse transcriptase from avian retrovirus (avian myeloblastosis virus), and mammalian retrovirus (Rauscher murine leukemia virus). The extract inhibited reverse transcriptase from both these retroviruses but showed almost no effect, if any, on the activity of cellular DNA polymerase alpha and RNA polymerase II in vitro. Consequently it is unlikely to have an adverse effect on the growth of cultured cell. The inhibitory activity of the extract was stable over a relatively wide pH range (pH 1–11) and was not lost after pronase digestion. Inhibitory activity of the extract was lost after boiling at 100°C in 0.67 N HCl, and after treatment with 100 mM NaIO4. The active principle in the extract has an apparent molecular weight in excess of 100 000 daltons. This new reverse transcriptase inhibitor is probably a polysaccharide.
Key wordsAntiretroviral activity Marine algae Avian myeloblastosis virus Reverse transcriptase
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