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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 162513, 31 pages
Review Article

Structures and Properties of Naturally Occurring Polyether Antibiotics

Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Chemistry, Adam Mickiewicz University, Grunwaldzka 6, 60-780 Poznań, Poland

Received 29 August 2012; Revised 12 December 2012; Accepted 4 January 2013

Academic Editor: Ivayla Pantcheva-Kadreva

Copyright © 2013 Jacek Rutkowski and Bogumil Brzezinski. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Polyether ionophores represent a large group of natural, biologically active substances produced by Streptomyces spp. They are lipid soluble and able to transport metal cations across cell membranes. Several of polyether ionophores are widely used as growth promoters in veterinary. Polyether antibiotics show a broad spectrum of bioactivity ranging from antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, antiviral, and tumour cell cytotoxicity. Recently, it has been shown that some of these compounds are able to selectively kill cancer stem cells and multidrug-resistant cancer cells. Thus, they are recognized as new potential anticancer drugs. The biological activity of polyether ionophores is strictly connected with their molecular structure; therefore, the purpose of this paper is to present an overview of their formula, molecular structure, and properties.