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Fungal natural products galaxy: Biochemistry and molecular genetics toward blockbuster drugs discovery.

Secondary metabolites synthesized by fungi have become a precious source of inspiration for the design of novel drugs. Indeed, fungi are prolific producers of fascinating, diverse, structurally complex, and low-molecular-mass natural products with high therapeutic leads, such as novel antimicrobial compounds, anticancer compounds, immunosuppressive agents, among others. Given that these microorganisms possess the extraordinary capacity to secrete diverse chemical scaffolds, they have been highly exploited by the giant pharma companies to generate small molecules. This has been made possible because the isolation of metabolites from fungal natural sources is feasible and surpasses the organic synthesis of compounds, which otherwise remains a significant bottleneck in the drug discovery process. Here in this comprehensive review, we have discussed recent studies on different fungi (pathogenic, non-pathogenic, commensal, and endophytic/symbiotic) from different habitats (terrestrial and marines), the specialized metabolites they biosynthesize, and the drugs derived from these specialized metabolites. Moreover, we have unveiled the logic behind the biosynthesis of vital chemical scaffolds, such as NRPS, PKS, PKS-NRPS hybrid, RiPPS, terpenoids, indole alkaloids, and their genetic mechanisms. Besides, we have provided a glimpse of the concept behind mycotoxins, virulence factor, and host immune response based on fungal infections.

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