Unveiling the Chemical Diversity of the Deep-Sea Sponge Characella pachastrelloides
Sponges are at the forefront of marine natural product research. In the deep sea, extreme conditions have driven secondary metabolite pathway evolution such that we might expect deep-sea sponges to yield a broad range of unique natural products. Here, we investigate the chemodiversity of a deep-sea tetractinellid sponge, Characella pachastrelloides, collected from ~800 m depth in Irish waters. First, we analyzed the MS/MS data obtained from fractions of this sponge on the GNPS public online platform to guide our exploration of its chemodiversity. Novel glycolipopeptides named characellides were previously isolated from the sponge and herein cyanocobalamin, a manufactured form of vitamin B12, not previously found in nature, was isolated in a large amount. We also identified several poecillastrins from the molecular network, a class of polyketide known to exhibit cytotoxicity. Light sensitivity prevented the isolation and characterization of these polyketides, but their presence was confirmed by characteristic NMR and MS signals. Finally, we isolated the new betaine 6-methylhercynine, which contains a unique methylation at C-2 of the imidazole ring. This compound showed potent cytotoxicity towards against HeLa (cervical cancer) cells.