Discovery, biosynthesis, and mechanism of action of the zaragozic acids: potent inhibitors of squalene synthase

Annu Rev Microbiol. 1995;49:607-39. doi: 10.1146/annurev.mi.49.100195.003135.


The zaragozic acids (ZAs), a family of fungal metabolites containing a novel 4,6,7-trihydroxy-2,8-dioxobicyclo[3.2.1]octane-3,4,5-tricarboxylic acid core, were discovered independently by two separate groups screening natural product sources to discover inhibitors of squalene synthase. This family of compounds all contain the same core but differ in their 1-alkyl and their 6-acyl side chains. Production of the ZAs is distributed over an extensive taxonomic range of Ascomycotina or their anamorphic states. The zaragozic acids are very potent inhibitors of squalene synthase that inhibit cholesterol synthesis and lower plasma cholesterol levels in primates. They also inhibit fungal ergosterol synthesis and are potent fungicidal compounds. The biosynthesis of the zaragozic acids appears to proceed through alkyl citrate intermediates and new members of the family have been produced through directed biosynthesis. These potent natural product based inhibitors of squalene synthase have potential to be developed either as cholesterol lowering agents and/or as antifungal agents.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / chemistry
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / metabolism
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antifungal Agents / chemistry
  • Antifungal Agents / metabolism
  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology*
  • Ascomycota / metabolism
  • Bridged Bicyclo Compounds, Heterocyclic / chemistry
  • Bridged Bicyclo Compounds, Heterocyclic / metabolism
  • Bridged Bicyclo Compounds, Heterocyclic / pharmacology*
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Drug Industry
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Farnesyl-Diphosphate Farnesyltransferase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Tricarboxylic Acids / chemistry
  • Tricarboxylic Acids / metabolism
  • Tricarboxylic Acids / pharmacology*


  • Anticholesteremic Agents
  • Antifungal Agents
  • Bridged Bicyclo Compounds, Heterocyclic
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Tricarboxylic Acids
  • zaragozic acid C
  • squalestatin 1
  • zaragozic acid B
  • Farnesyl-Diphosphate Farnesyltransferase