Identification of Spongionella compounds as cyclosporine A mimics

Jon Andoni Sánchez, Amparo Alfonso, Marta Leirós, Eva Alonso, Mostafa E. Rateb, Marcel Jaspars, Wael E. Houssen, Rainer Ebel, J. Tabudravu, Luís M. Botana

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Marine sponges are found to be a wide source of bioactive compounds with different effects such as anti-inflammatory or anticancer actions among others. Cyclophilin A (Cyp A) is a target protein implicated in the mechanism of action of immunosuppressive compounds such as Cyclosporine A (CsA). In the present paper we studied the binding between 4 Spongionella compounds (Gracilins H, A, L and Tetrahydroaplysulphurin-1) and Cyp A immobilized over a CM5 sensor chip. Thus, we found that Spongionella compounds showed to have similar binding affinities than CsA with dissociation equilibrium constant in the range. Next, the effect of these Spongionella isolated compounds was tested over calcineurin phosphatase activity. The same than CsA, Gracilin H, A and Tetrahydroaplysulphurin-1 were able to inhibit phosphatase activity once the complex between Cyp A-CsA/Spongionella compounds was formed. The ability to avoid the dephosphorylation of NFATc1 was also checked in human T cells isolated from peripheral blood. First, cells were pre-treated with Spongionella compounds or CsA following by Concanavalin A (Con A) stimulation. In these conditions nuclear NFATc1 levels were diminished either by CsA or Gracilin A, L, and Tetrahydroaplysulphurin-1 treatment. Moreover, as happens with CsA due to the inhibition of NFATc1, Interleukine-2 (IL-2) released to the culture medium was significantly decreased with all Spongionella compounds. Results conclude that, Spongionella derivatives preserve T lymphocytes from activation modulating the same pathway than CsA. Thus, this mechanism of action suggests that these compounds could be interesting candidates in drug development as immunosuppressive or anti-inflammatory drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-414
Number of pages8
JournalPharmacological Research
Early online date1 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2016

Bibliographical note

The research leading to these results has received funding from the following FEDER cofounded-grants. From CDTI and Technological Funds, supported by Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, AGL2012-40185-CO2-01, AGL2014-58210-R, and Consellería de Cultura, Educación e Ordenación Universitaria, GRC2013-016, and through Axencia Galega de Innovación, Spain, ITC-20133020 SINTOX. From CDTI under ISIP Programme, Spain, IDI-20130304 APTAFOOD.

From the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme managed by REA—Research Executive Agency (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement 312184 PHARMASEA. We wish to thank the Clínica Losada Arránz, especially Ms. Paula López Arránz for providing the human blood samples for T cells purification. Jon Andoni Sánchez is supported by a fellowship from Plan Galego de Investigación e Crecemento, Xunta de Galicia, Spain.


  • calcineurin
  • NFATc1
  • lymphocyte
  • Spongionella
  • cyclophilin A
  • IL-2


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