Revisiting the enniatins: a review of their isolation, biosynthesis, structure determination and biological activities

J Antibiot (Tokyo). 2012 Nov;65(11):541-9. doi: 10.1038/ja.2012.71. Epub 2012 Sep 19.


Enniatins are cyclohexadepsipeptides isolated largely from Fusarium species of fungi, although they have been isolated from other genera, such as Verticillium and Halosarpheia. They were first described over 60 years ago, and their range of biological activities, including antiinsectan, antifungal, antibiotic and cytotoxic, drives contemporary interest. To date, 29 enniatins have been isolated and characterized, either as a single compound or mixtures of inseparable homologs. Structurally, these depsipeptides are biosynthesized by a multifunctional enzyme, termed enniatin synthetase, and are composed of six residues that alternate between N-methyl amino acids and hydroxy acids. Their structure elucidation can be challenging, particularly for enniatins isolated as inseparable homologs; however, several strategies and tools have been utilized to solve these problems. Currently, there is one drug that has been developed from a mixture of enniatins, fusafungine, which is used as a topical treatment of upper respiratory tract infections by oral and/or nasal inhalation. Given the range of biological activities observed for this class of compounds, research on enniatins will likely continue. This review strives to digest the past studies, as well as, describe tools and techniques that can be utilized to overcome the challenges associated with the structure elucidation of mixtures of enniatin homologs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Infective Agents / isolation & purification
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / isolation & purification
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Depsipeptides / biosynthesis
  • Depsipeptides / chemistry
  • Depsipeptides / isolation & purification*
  • Depsipeptides / pharmacology
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / isolation & purification
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Fusarium / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Ionophores / chemistry
  • Ionophores / isolation & purification
  • Ionophores / pharmacology
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Molecular Structure


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Depsipeptides
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Ionophores
  • enniatins