An anti-tumor compound isolated from the Yew Tree (Taxus sp.)
Cephalomannine was first discovered in the tree, Cephalotaxus mannii (Powell, 1979). Since then, it has been discovered in yew trees, Taxus sp., and is commonly eluted with taxol during extract purification (Cardellina, 1991).
Biological Activity:Cephalomannine is one of three major taxanes produced by yew trees as a chemical defense. A typically yew tree will have a 10:5:1 ratio of paclitaxel, cephalomannine, and baccatin III, respectively (Elmer, 1994).
Taxanes disrupt mitosis by preventing microtubule destabilization and spindle fiber formation in animal cells (Molè-Bajer, 1983). As a consequence of this mechanism, yew trees are slow growing organisms. Without mitosis, cells, especially cells with a high replication rate such as tumor cells, cannot divide. Taxanes are currently being investigated as possible treatment for certain cancers, and paclitaxel is currently approved by the FDA for treatment of AIDS-related Kaposi sarcoma, breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, and ovarian cancer (National Cancer Institute, 2012).
References:Cardellina J. (1991) HPLC Separation of Taxol and Cephalomannine. Journal of Liquid Chromatography. 14, 659-665.
Elmer W, Mattina M and MacEachern G. (1994) Sensitivity of plant pathogenic fungi to taxane extracts from ornamental yews. Phytopathology. 84(10), 1179-1185.
Molè-Bajer J and Bajer A. (1983) Action of Taxol on Mitosis: Modification of Microtubule Arrangements and Function of the Mitotic Spindle in Haemanthus Endosperm. Journal of Cell Biology. 96, 527-540.
National Cancer Institute. (2012) Cancer Drug Information: Paclitaxel. www.cancer.gov
Powell R, Miller R, Smith Jr C. (1979) Cephalomannine; a New Antitumour Alkaloid from Cephalotaxus mannii. Journal of the Chemical Society. 102-104.