Tunicamycin is a mixture of tunicamycins A, B, C and D and has been widely used in the study of glycoprotein synthesis in various biological systems. Tunicamycin inhibits GlcNAc phosphotransferase (GPT) and inhibts the formation of N-glycosidic linkages in glycoprotein sunthesis. Tunicamycin has also been reported to have a dose-dependent inhibition of DNA synthesis, inhibit protein glycosylation, suppression of the S phase and to also arrest the cell cycle in late G1. As a member of a family of antibiotics produced by Streptomyces lysosuperficus, tunicamycin is noted to be active in vitro against gram-positive bacteria, fungi, yeasts and viruses. During protein glycosylation, tunicamycin is noted to be an inhibitor of the transfer of saccharide moieties to dolichol during dolichol-linked glycoprotein synthesis. Through this mechanism, it has been postulated to arrest cell cycling as a competitive inhibitor of glycoprotein synthesis. Dose-dependent inhibition of DNA synthesis may be related to the alteration of glycoproteins which thereby affect the transport of thymidine into cells. Additionally, tunicamycin has been reported to prevent cell cycle progression in primary cultures of rat glial cells as well as inhibit lipid-mediated protein glycosylation in chick or mouse fibroblasts in a dose-dependent manner.
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