Assessment of natural products in the Drosophila melanogaster BII cell bioassay for ecdysteroid agonist and antagonist activities
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Ecdysteroid agonist and antagonist activities can be detected and quantified with the Drosophila melanogaster BII cell bioassay. This bioassay is convenient, sensitive and robust. We report the assessment with this bioassay of the activities of a wide range of compounds representing a number of classes of natural products. Many compounds were inactive over a wide concentration range (10−8 to 10−4 or 10−3 M) or cytotoxic at high concentrations. However, antagonisitic activity was associated with several classes of compounds: cucurbitacins and withanolides (extending previous findings) and phenylalkanoids and certain alkaloids (described for the first time). A withanolide (withaperuvin D) is identified which possesses agonistic activity. Brassinosteroids, which have been ascribed (ant)agonistic properties in the past, were not found to be active in the BII bioassay, either as agonists or antagonists. Possible reasons for the prevalence of antagonists and for the low potency of the majority of them are discussed.
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