Elke Dittmann

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BACKGROUND Blooms of toxic cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) have become increasingly common in the surface waters of the world. Of the known toxins produced by cyanobacteria, the microcystins are the most significant threat to human and animal health. These cyclic peptides are potent inhibitors of eukaryotic protein phosphatases type 1 and 2A. Synthesized(More)
Several bloom-forming cyanobacterial genera produce potent inhibitors of eukaryotic protein phosphatases called microcystins. Microcystins are hepatotoxic cyclic heptapeptides and are presumed to be synthesized non-ribosomally by peptide synthetases. We identified putative peptide synthetase genes in the microcystin-producing strain Microcystis aeruginosa(More)
Polyketide synthases (PKS) perform a stepwise biosynthesis of diverse carbon skeletons from simple activated carboxylic acid units. The products of the complex pathways possess a wide range of pharmaceutical properties, including antibiotic, antitumor, antifungal, and immunosuppressive activities. We have performed a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of(More)
The effects of microcystins on Daphnia galeata, a typical filter-feeding grazer in eutrophic lakes, were investigated. To do this, the microcystin-producing wild-type strain Microcystis aeruginosa PCC7806 was compared with a mcy- PCC7806 mutant, which could not synthesize any variant of microcystin due to mutation of a microcystin synthetase gene. The(More)
Microcystins represent an extraordinarily large family of cyclic heptapeptide toxins that are nonribosomally synthesized by various cyanobacteria. Microcystins specifically inhibit the eukaryotic protein phosphatases 1 and 2A. Their outstanding variability makes them particularly useful for studies on the evolution of structure-function relationships in(More)
Microcystin, a hepatotoxin known to be the cause of animal and human deaths, is produced by the bloom-forming cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa in freshwater bodies worldwide. The toxin is produced nonribosomally via a multifunctional enzyme complex, consisting of both peptide synthetase and polyketide synthase modules coded for by the mcy gene cluster.(More)
In order to find out how many genotypes determine microcystin production of Microcystis spp. in field populations, single colonies (clones) were sampled from Lake Wannsee (Berlin, Germany), characterized morphologically, and subsequently analyzed by PCR for a region within the mcyB gene encoding the activation of one amino acid during microcystin(More)
Over the past 15 years, the genetic basis for production of many cyanobacterial bioactive compounds has been described. This knowledge has enabled investigations into the environmental factors that regulate the production of these toxins at the molecular level. Such molecular or systems level studies are also likely to reveal the physiological role of the(More)
Modular polyketide synthases (PKSs) are giant bacterial enzymes that synthesize many polyketides of therapeutic value. In contrast to PKSs that provide acyltransferase (AT) activities in cis, trans-AT PKSs lack integrated AT domains and exhibit unusual enzymatic features with poorly understood functions in polyketide assembly. This has retarded insight into(More)
Although intensification of toxic cyanobacterial blooms over the last decade is a matter of growing concern due to bloom impact on water quality, the biological role of most of the toxins produced is not known. In this critical review we focus primarily on the biological role of two toxins, microcystins and cylindrospermopsin, in inter- and intra-species(More)