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Triterpenoids in Echinoderms: Fundamental Differences in Diversity and Biosynthetic Pathways

Biology of Marine Organisms and Biomimetics Unit, Research Institute for Biosciences, University of Mons-UMONS, 7000 Mons, Belgium
Laboratory of molecular biophysics of interfaces, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, University of Liege, 5030 Gembloux, Belgium
Organic Synthesis and Mass Spectrometry Laboratory, Interdisciplinary Center for Mass Spectrometry, Research Institute for Biosciences, University of Mons—UMONS, 7000 Mons, Belgium
Department of Marine Science and Fisheries, College of Agricultural and Marine Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, 123 Al-Khod, Oman
Institut de Biologie Moléculaire des Plantes du CNRS, Université de Strasbourg, 67084 Strasbourg Cedex, France
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Mar. Drugs 2019, 17(6), 352;
Received: 18 April 2019 / Revised: 30 May 2019 / Accepted: 4 June 2019 / Published: 13 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Terpenoids from Marine Organisms)
Echinoderms form a remarkable phylum of marine invertebrates that present specific chemical signatures unique in the animal kingdom. It is particularly the case for essential triterpenoids that evolved separately in each of the five echinoderm classes. Indeed, while most animals have Δ5-sterols, sea cucumbers (Holothuroidea) and sea stars (Asteroidea) also possess Δ7 and Δ9(11)-sterols, a characteristic not shared with brittle stars (Ophiuroidea), sea urchins (Echinoidea), and crinoids (Crinoidea). These particular Δ7 and Δ9(11) sterols emerged as a self-protection against membranolytic saponins that only sea cucumbers and sea stars produce as a defense mechanism. The diversity of saponins is large; several hundred molecules have been described in the two classes of these saponins (i.e., triterpenoid or steroid saponins). This review aims to highlight the diversity of triterpenoids in echinoderms by focusing on sterols and triterpenoid glycosides, but more importantly to provide an updated view of the biosynthesis of these molecules in echinoderms. View Full-Text
Keywords: triterpenoids; saponins; sterols; echinoderms triterpenoids; saponins; sterols; echinoderms
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Claereboudt, E.J.S.; Caulier, G.; Decroo, C.; Colson, E.; Gerbaux, P.; Claereboudt, M.R.; Schaller, H.; Flammang, P.; Deleu, M.; Eeckhaut, I. Triterpenoids in Echinoderms: Fundamental Differences in Diversity and Biosynthetic Pathways. Mar. Drugs 2019, 17, 352.

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