Marine metabolites: The sterols of soft coral
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Sterols constitute a major group of secondary metabolites of soft corals. Several of these compounds have the 'usual' 3 beta-hydroxy, delta sup(5) (or delta sup(0)) cholestane skeleton, a large number of these metabolites are polar sterols with multiple oxygenations in rings as well as side chains. The latter compounds are structurally similar to some of the steroidal hormones, bile acids, signaling agents, etc., with potential therapeutic applications in the fields of cancer, atherosclerosis, and other diseases. The present review lists 561 structurally diverse sterols of marine soft coral origin and attempts to codify their structural types. This will help in chemotaxonomic investigations of these organisms and stimulate biochemists to look for useful enzymes for conversion of normal sterols into biologically useful derivatives.
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