The cellular slime mold Dictyostelium discoideum is an excellent model organism for the study of cell and developmental biology because of its simple life cycle and ease of use. Recent findings suggest that Dictyostelium and possibly other genera of cellular slime molds, are potential sources of novel lead compounds for pharmacological and medical research. In this review, we present supporting evidence that cellular slime molds are an untapped source of lead compounds by examining the discovery and functions of polyketide differentiation-inducing factor-1, a compound that was originally isolated as an inducer of stalk-cell differentiation in D. discoideum and, together with its derivatives, is now a promising lead compound for drug discovery in several areas. We also review other novel compounds, including secondary metabolites, that have been isolated from cellular slime molds.
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