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1.  Absence of Substrate Channeling between Active Sites in the Agrobacterium tumefaciens IspDF and IspE Enzymes of the Methyl Erythritol Phosphate Pathway† 
Biochemistry  2006;45(11):3548-3553.
The conversion of 2C-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) to 2C-methyl-d-erythritol 2,4-cyclodiphosphate (cMEDP) in the MEP entry into the isoprenoid biosynthetic pathway occurs in three consecutive steps catalyzed by the IspD, IspE, and IspF enzymes, respectively. In Agrobacterium tumefaciens the ispD and ispF genes are fused to encode a bifunctional enzyme that catalyzes the first (synthesis of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl d-erythritol) and third (synthesis of 2C-methyl-d-erythritol 2,4-cyclodiphosphate) steps. Sedimentation velocity experiments indicate that the bifunctional IspDF enzyme and the IspE protein associate in solution raising the possibility of substrate channeling among the active sites in these two proteins. Kinetic evidence for substrate channeling was sought by measuring the time courses for product formation during incubations of MEP, CTP, and ATP with the IspDF and IspE proteins with and without an excess of the inactive IspE (D152A) mutant in presence or absence of 30% (v/v) glycerol. The time dependencies indicate that the enzyme-generated intermediates are not transferred from the IspD active site in IspDF to the active site of IspE or from the active site in IspE to the active site in the IspF module of IspDF.
doi:10.1021/bi0520075
PMCID: PMC2516919  PMID: 16533036
bifunctional; IspDF; IspE; non-channeling
2.  Synthesis of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 2-phosphate and kinetic studies of Mycobacterium tuberculosis IspF, a potential drug target 
Chemistry & biology  2010;17(2):117-122.
SUMMARY
Many pathogenic bacteria utilize the 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway for the biosynthesis of isopentenyl diphosphate and dimethylallyl diphosphate, two major building blocks of isoprenoid compounds. The fifth enzyme in the MEP pathway, 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 2,4-cyclodiphosphate (ME-CPP) synthase (IspF), catalyzes the conversion of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 2-phosphate (CDP-ME2P) to ME-CPP with a corresponding release of cytidine 5-monophosphate (CMP). Since there is no ortholog of IspF in human cells IspF is of interest as a potential drug target. However, study of IspF has been hindered by a lack of enantiopure CDP-ME2P. Herein, we report the first synthesis of enantiomerically pure CDP-ME2P from commercially available D-arabinose. Cloned, expressed, and purified M. tuberculosis IspF was able to utilize the synthetic CDP-ME2P as a substrate, a result confirmed by mass spectrometry. A convenient, sensitive, in vitro IspF assay was developed by coupling the CMP released during production of ME-CPP to mononucleotide kinase, which can be used for high throughput screening.
doi:10.1016/j.chembiol.2010.01.013
PMCID: PMC2837070  PMID: 20189102
3.  Crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of 4-­diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-d-erythritol kinase (IspE) from Mycobacterium tuberculosis  
The 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-d-erythritol kinase (IspE) from M. tuberculosis H37Rv was overexpressed in E. coli, purified and crystallized. Diffraction data for the native enzyme were collected to 2.1 Å resolution.
The 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-d-erythritol kinase (IspE) from Mycobacterium tuberculosis, an enzyme from the 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway, is crucial and essential for the survival of this pathogenic bacterium. IspE catalyzes the conversion of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-d-­erythritol (CDP-ME) to 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-d-erythritol 2-phosphate (CDP-ME2P) in an ATP-dependent manner. Solving the crystal structure of M. tuberculosis IspE will shed light on its structural details and mechanism of action and may provide the basis for the future design of drugs for the treatment of multidrug-resistant and extremely drug-resistant M. tuberculosis strains. Recombinant M. tuberculosis IspE was crystallized at 291 K using NaCl or Li2SO4 as a precipitant. A 2.1 Å resolution native data set was collected from a single flash-­cooled crystal (100 K) belonging to space group P212121, with unit-cell parameters a = 52.5, b = 72.3, c = 107.3 Å. One molecule was assumed per asymmetric unit, which gives a Matthews coefficient of 3.4 Å3 Da−1 with 63% solvent content.
doi:10.1107/S1744309111019567
PMCID: PMC3144805  PMID: 21795803
Mycobacterium tuberculosis; IspE; drug discovery
4.  Probing phosphorylation by non-mammalian isoprenoid biosynthetic enzymes using 1H–31P–31P correlation NMR spectroscopy†‡ 
Molecular bioSystems  2009;5(9):935-944.
The biogenesis of isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl pyrophosphate (DMAPP) is accomplished by the methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway in plants, bacteria and parasites, making it a potential target for the development of anti-infective agents and herbicides. The biosynthetic enzymes comprising this pathway catalyze intriguing chemical transformations on diphosphate scaffolds, offering an opportunity to generate novel analogs in this synthetically challenging compound class. Such a biosynthetic approach to generating new diphosphate analogs may involve transformation through discrete diphosphate species, presenting unique challenges in structure determination and characterization of unnatural enzyme-generated diphosphate products produced in tandem. We have developed 1H–31P–31P correlation NMR spectroscopy techniques for the direct characterization of crude MEP pathway enzyme products at low concentrations (200 μM to 5 mM) on a room temperature (non-cryogenic) NMR probe. Coupling the 100% natural abundance of the 31P nucleus with the high intrinsic sensitivity of proton NMR, 1H–31P–31P correlation spectroscopy is particularly useful for characterization of unnatural diphosphate enzyme products in the MEP pathway. As proof of principle, we demonstrate the rapid characterization of natural enzyme products of the enzymes IspD, E and F in tandem enzyme incubations. In addition, we have characterized several unnatural enzyme products using this technique, including new products of cytidyltransferase IspD bearing erythritol, glycerol and ribose components. The results of this study indicate that IspD may be a useful biocatalyst and highlight 1H–31P–31P correlation spectroscopy as a valuable tool for the characterization of other unnatural products in non-mammalian isoprenoid biosynthesis.
doi:10.1039/b903513c
PMCID: PMC3161243  PMID: 19668858
5.  2C-Methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate enhances and sustains cyclodiphosphate synthase IspF activity 
ACS chemical biology  2012;7(10):1702-1710.
There is significant progress toward understanding catalysis throughout the essential MEP pathway to isoprenoids in human pathogens; however, little is known about pathway regulation. The present study begins by testing the hypothesis that isoprenoid biosynthesis is regulated via feedback inhibition of the fifth enzyme cyclodiphosphate IspF by downstream isoprenoid diphosphates. Here, we demonstrate recombinant E. coli IspF is not inhibited by downstream metabolites and isopentenyl diphosphate (IDP), dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMADP), geranyl diphosphate (GDP) and farnesyl diphosphate (FDP) under standard assay conditions. However, 2C-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP), the product of reductoisomerase IspC and first committed MEP pathway intermediate, activates and sustains this enhanced IspF activity, and the IspF-MEP complex is inhibited by FDP. We further show that the methylerythritol scaffold itself, which is unique to this pathway, drives the activation and stabilization of active IspF. Our results suggest a novel feed-forward regulatory mechanism for 2Cmethyl-d-erythritol 2,4-cyclodiphosphate (MEcDP) production and support an isoprenoid biosynthesis regulatory mechanism via feedback inhibition of the IspF-MEP complex by FDP. The results have important implications for development of inhibitors against the IspF-MEP complex, which may be the physiologically relevant form of the enzyme.
doi:10.1021/cb300243w
PMCID: PMC3477264  PMID: 22839733
cyclodiphosphate synthase; IspF; methylerythritol phosphate; MEP pathway regulation
6.  A triclinic crystal form of Escherichia coli 4-diphosphocytidyl-2C-methyl-d-erythritol kinase and reassessment of the quaternary structure 
The structure of a triclinic crystal form of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2C-methyl-d-erythritol kinase has been determined. Comparisons with a previously reported monoclinic crystal form raise questions about our knowledge of the quaternary structure of this enzyme.
4-Diphosphocytidyl-2C-methyl-d-erythritol kinase (IspE; EC 2.7.1.148) contributes to the 1-deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate or mevalonate-independent biosynthetic pathway that produces the isomers isopentenyl diphosphate and dimethylallyl diphosphate. These five-carbon compounds are the fundamental building blocks for the biosynthesis of isoprenoids. The mevalonate-independent pathway does not occur in humans, but is present and has been shown to be essential in many dangerous pathogens, i.e. Plasmodium species, which cause malaria, and Gram-negative bacteria. Thus, the enzymes involved in this pathway have attracted attention as potential drug targets. IspE produces 4-­diphosphos­phocytidyl-2C-methyl-d-erythritol 2-phosphate by ATP-dependent phosphorylation of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2C-methyl-d-erythritol. A triclinic crystal structure of the Escherichia coli IspE–ADP complex with two molecules in the asymmetric unit was determined at 2 Å resolution and compared with a monoclinic crystal form of a ternary complex of E. coli IspE also with two molecules in the asymmetric unit. The molecular packing is different in the two forms. In the asymmetric unit of the triclinic crystal form the substrate-binding sites of IspE are occluded by structural elements of the partner, suggesting that the ‘triclinic dimer’ is an artefact of the crystal lattice. The surface area of interaction in the triclinic form is almost double that observed in the monoclinic form, implying that the dimeric assembly in the monoclinic form may also be an artifact of crystallization.
doi:10.1107/S1744309109054591
PMCID: PMC2833027  PMID: 20208151
mevalonate-independent pathway; isoprenoid biosynthesis; kinases
7.  Crystal structures of IspF from Plasmodium falciparum and Burkholderia cenocepacia: comparisons inform antimicrobial drug target assessment 
Background
2C-methyl-D-erythritol-2,4-cyclodiphosphate synthase (IspF) catalyzes the conversion of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2C-methyl-D-erythritol-2-phosphate to 2C-methyl-D-erythritol-2,4-cyclodiphosphate and cytidine monophosphate in production of isoprenoid-precursors via the methylerythritol phosphate biosynthetic pathway. IspF is found in the protozoan Plasmodium falciparum, a parasite that causes cerebral malaria, as well as in many Gram-negative bacteria such as Burkholderia cenocepacia. IspF represents a potential target for development of broad-spectrum antimicrobial drugs since it is proven or inferred as essential in these pathogens and absent from mammals. Structural studies of IspF from these two important yet distinct pathogens, and comparisons with orthologues have been carried out to generate reagents, to support and inform a structure-based approach to early stage drug discovery.
Results
Efficient recombinant protein production and crystallization protocols were developed, and high-resolution crystal structures of IspF from P. falciparum (Emphasis/Emphasis>IspF) and B. cenocepacia (BcIspF) in complex with cytidine nucleotides determined. Comparisons with orthologues, indicate a high degree of order and conservation in parts of the active site where Zn2+ is bound and where recognition of the cytidine moiety of substrate occurs. However, conformational flexibility is noted in that area of the active site responsible for binding the methylerythritol component of substrate. Unexpectedly, one structure of BcIspF revealed two molecules of cytidine monophosphate in the active site, and another identified citrate coordinating to the catalytic Zn2+. In both cases interactions with ligands appear to help order a flexible loop at one side of the active site. Difficulties were encountered when attempting to derive complex structures with other ligands.
Conclusions
High-resolution crystal structures of IspF from two important human pathogens have been obtained and compared to orthologues. The studies reveal new data on ligand binding, with citrate coordinating to the active site Zn2+ and when present in high concentrations cytidine monophosphate displays two binding modes in the active site. Ligand binding appears to order a part of the active site involved in substrate recognition. The high degree of structural conservation in and around the IspF active site suggests that any structural model might be suitable to support a program of structure-based drug discovery.
doi:10.1186/1472-6807-14-1
PMCID: PMC3927217  PMID: 24410837
Antimicrobial drug target; Isoprenoid biosynthesis; X-ray crystallography; Zn2+-dependent enzyme
8.  Chemoenzymatic synthesis of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol: A substrate for IspE 
Tetrahedron letters  2008;49(29-30):4461-4463.
Enantiomerically pure 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate 1 (MEP) is synthesized from 1,2-O-isopropylidene-α-D-xylofuranose via facile benzylation in good yield. Subsequently, 1 is used for enzymatic synthesis of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 2 (CDP-ME) using 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol synthase (IspD). The chemoenzymatically synthesized 2 can be used as substrate for assay of IspE and for high throughput screening to identify IspE inhibitors.
doi:10.1016/j.tetlet.2008.05.074
PMCID: PMC2832204  PMID: 19088853
9.  Characterization of Aquifex aeolicus 4-diphosphocytidyl-2C-methyl-d-erythritol kinase – ligand recognition in a template for antimicrobial drug discovery 
The Febs Journal  2008;275(11):2779-2794.
4-Diphosphocytidyl-2C-methyl-d-erythritol kinase (IspE) catalyses the ATP-dependent conversion of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2C-methyl-d-erythritol (CDPME) to 4-diphosphocytidyl-2C-methyl-d-erythritol 2-phosphate with the release of ADP. This reaction occurs in the non-mevalonate pathway of isoprenoid precursor biosynthesis and because it is essential in important microbial pathogens and absent from mammals it represents a potential target for anti-infective drugs. We set out to characterize the biochemical properties, determinants of molecular recognition and reactivity of IspE and report the cloning and purification of recombinant Aquifex aeolicus IspE (AaIspE), kinetic data, metal ion, temperature and pH dependence, crystallization and structure determination of the enzyme in complex with CDP, CDPME and ADP. In addition, 4-fluoro-3,5-dihydroxy-4-methylpent-1-enylphosphonic acid (compound 1) was designed to mimic a fragment of the substrate, a synthetic route to 1 was elucidated and the complex structure determined. Surprisingly, this ligand occupies the binding site for the ATP α-phosphate not the binding site for the methyl-d-erythritol moiety of CDPME. Gel filtration and analytical ultracentrifugation indicate that AaIspE is a monomer in solution. The enzyme displays the characteristic α/β galacto-homoserine-mevalonate-phosphomevalonate kinase fold, with the catalytic centre positioned in a deep cleft between the ATP- and CDPME-binding domains. Comparisons indicate a high degree of sequence conservation on the IspE active site across bacterial species, similarities in structure, specificity of substrate recognition and mechanism. The biochemical characterization, attainment of well-ordered and reproducible crystals and the models resulting from the analyses provide reagents and templates to support the structure-based design of broad-spectrum antimicrobial agents.
doi:10.1111/j.1742-4658.2008.06418.x
PMCID: PMC2655357  PMID: 18422643
enzyme–ligand complex; GHMP kinase; isoprenoid biosynthesis; molecular recognition; non-mevalonate pathway
10.  Identification of Novel Small Molecule Inhibitors of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol (CDP-ME) kinase of Gram-negative bacteria 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry  2011;19(19):5886-5895.
The biosyntheses of isoprenoids is essential for the survival in all living organisms, and requires one of the two biochemical pathways: (a) Mevalonate (MVA) Pathway or (b) Methylerythritol Phosphate (MEP) Pathway. The latter pathway, which is used by all Gram-negative bacteria, some Gram-positive bacteria and a few apicomplexan protozoa, provides an attractive target for the development of new antimicrobials because of its absence in humans. In this report, we describe two different approaches that we used to identify novel small molecule inhibitors of Escherichia coli and Yersinia pestis 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl D-erythritol (CDP-ME) kinases, key enzymes of the MEP pathway encoded by the E. coli ispE and Y. pestis ipk genes, respectively. In the first approach, we explored existing inhibitors of the GHMP kinases while in the second approach; we performed computational high-throughput screening of compound libraries by targeting the CDP-ME binding site of the two bacterial enzymes. From the first approach, we identified two compounds with 6-(benzylthio)-2-(2-hydroxyphenyl)-4-oxo-3,4-dihydro-2H-1,3-thiazine-5-carbonitrile and (Z)-3-methyl-4-((5-phenylfuran-2-yl)methylene)isoxazol-5(4H)-one scaffolds which inhibited Escherichia coli CDP-ME kinase in vitro. We then performed substructure search and docking experiments based on these two scaffolds and identified twenty three analogs for structure-activity relationship (SAR) studies. Three new compounds from the isoxazol-5(4H)-one series have shown inhibitory activities against E. coli and Y. pestis CDP-ME kinases with the IC50 values ranging from 7μM to 13μM. The second approach by computational high-throughput screening (HTS) of two million drug-like compounds yielded two compounds with benzenesulfonamide and acetamide moieties which, at a concentration of 20μM, inhibited 80% and 65%, respectively, of control CDP-ME kinase activity.
doi:10.1016/j.bmc.2011.08.012
PMCID: PMC3188437  PMID: 21903402
11.  Expression and characterization of soluble 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol kinase from bacterial pathogens 
Chemistry & biology  2009;16(12):1230-1239.
Summary
Many bacterial pathogens utilize the 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate pathway for biosynthesizing isoprenoid precursors, a pathway that is vital for bacterial survival and absent from human cells, providing a potential source of drug targets. However, the characterization of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol (CDP-ME) kinase (IspE) has been hindered due to a lack of enantiopure CDP-ME and difficulty in obtaining pure IspE. Here, enantiopure CDP-ME was chemically synthesized and recombinant IspE from bacterial pathogens were purified and characterized. Although gene disruption was not possible in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, IspE is essential in Mycobacterium smegmatis. The biochemical and kinetic characteristics of IspE provide the basis for development of a high throughput screen and structural characterization.
doi:10.1016/j.chembiol.2009.10.014
PMCID: PMC4020808  PMID: 20064433
12.  1-Deoxy-d-Xylulose 5-Phosphate Reductoisomerase (IspC) from Mycobacterium tuberculosis: towards Understanding Mycobacterial Resistance to Fosmidomycin 
Journal of Bacteriology  2005;187(24):8395-8402.
1-Deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate reductoisomerase (IspC) catalyzes the first committed step in the mevalonate-independent isopentenyl diphosphate biosynthetic pathway and is a potential drug target in some pathogenic bacteria. The antibiotic fosmidomycin has been shown to inhibit IspC in a number of organisms and is active against most gram-negative bacteria but not gram positives, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis, even though the mevalonate-independent pathway is the sole isopentenyl diphosphate biosynthetic pathway in this organism. Therefore, the enzymatic properties of recombinant IspC from M. tuberculosis were characterized. Rv2870c from M. tuberculosis converts 1-deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate to 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate in the presence of NADPH. The enzymatic activity is dependent on the presence of Mg2+ ions and exhibits optimal activity between pH 7.5 and 7.9; the Km for 1-deoxyxylulose 5-phosphate was calculated to be 47.1 μM, and the Km for NADPH was 29.7 μM. The specificity constant of Rv2780c in the forward direction is 1.5 × 106 M−1 min−1, and the reaction is inhibited by fosmidomycin, with a 50% inhibitory concentration of 310 nM. In addition, Rv2870c complements an inactivated chromosomal copy of IspC in Salmonella enterica, and the complemented strain is sensitive to fosmidomycin. Thus, M. tuberculosis resistance to fosmidomycin is not due to intrinsic properties of Rv2870c, and the enzyme appears to be a valid drug target in this pathogen.
doi:10.1128/JB.187.24.8395-8402.2005
PMCID: PMC1316992  PMID: 16321944
13.  Cytidine derivatives as IspF inhibitors of Burkolderia pseudomallei 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters  2013;23(24):10.1016/j.bmcl.2013.09.101.
Published biological data suggest that the methyl erythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway, a non-mevalonate isoprenoid biosynthetic pathway, is essential for certain bacteria and other infectious disease organisms. One highly conserved enzyme in the MEP pathway is 2C-methyl-D-erythritol 2,4-cyclodiphosphate synthase (IspF). Fragment-bound complexes of IspF from Burkholderia pseudomallei were used to design and synthesize a series of molecules linking the cytidine moiety to different zinc pocket fragment binders. Testing by surface plasmon resonance (SPR) found one molecule in the series to possess binding affinity equal to that of cytidine diphosphate, despite lacking any metal-coordinating phosphate groups. Close inspection of the SPR data suggest different binding stoichiometries between IspF and test compounds. Crystallographic analysis shows important variations between the binding mode of one synthesized compound and the pose of the bound fragment from which it was designed. The binding modes of these molecules add to our structural knowledge base for IspF and suggest future refinements in this compound series.
doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2013.09.101
PMCID: PMC3874807  PMID: 24157367
Fragment screening; MEP pathway; IspF; Non-mevalonate; Anti-infective; SPR
14.  The structure of Mycobacteria 2C-methyl-D-erythritol-2,4-cyclodiphosphate synthase, an essential enzyme, provides a platform for drug discovery 
Background
The prevalence of tuberculosis, the prolonged and expensive treatment that this disease requires and an increase in drug resistance indicate an urgent need for new treatments. The 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate pathway of isoprenoid precursor biosynthesis is an attractive chemotherapeutic target because it occurs in many pathogens, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and is absent from humans. To underpin future drug development it is important to assess which enzymes in this biosynthetic pathway are essential in the actual pathogens and to characterize them.
Results
The fifth enzyme of this pathway, encoded by ispF, is 2C-methyl-D-erythritol-2,4-cyclodiphosphate synthase (IspF). A two-step recombination strategy was used to construct ispF deletion mutants in M. tuberculosis but only wild-type double crossover strains were isolated. The chromosomal copy could be deleted when a second functional copy was provided on an integrating plasmid, demonstrating that ispF is an essential gene under the conditions tested thereby confirming its potential as a drug target. We attempted structure determination of the M. tuberculosis enzyme (MtIspF), but failed to obtain crystals. We instead analyzed the orthologue M. smegmatis IspF (MsIspF), sharing 73% amino acid sequence identity, at 2.2 Å resolution. The high level of sequence conservation is particularly pronounced in and around the active site. MsIspF is a trimer with a hydrophobic cavity at its center that contains density consistent with diphosphate-containing isoprenoids. The active site, created by two subunits, comprises a rigid CDP-Zn2+ binding pocket with a flexible loop to position the 2C-methyl-D-erythritol moiety of substrate. Sequence-structure comparisons indicate that the active site and interactions with ligands are highly conserved.
Conclusion
Our study genetically validates MtIspF as a therapeutic target and provides a model system for structure-based ligand design.
doi:10.1186/1472-6807-7-68
PMCID: PMC2151065  PMID: 17956607
15.  Isoprenoid Biosynthesis in Synechocystis sp. Strain PCC6803 Is Stimulated by Compounds of the Pentose Phosphate Cycle but Not by Pyruvate or Deoxyxylulose-5-Phosphate 
Journal of Bacteriology  2002;184(18):5045-5051.
The photosynthetic cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. strain PCC6803 possesses homologs of known genes of the non-mevalonate 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol 2-phosphate (MEP) pathway for synthesis of isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). Isoprenoid biosynthesis in extracts of this cyanobacterium, measured by incorporation of radiolabeled IPP, was not stimulated by pyruvate, an initial substrate of the MEP pathway in Escherichia coli, or by deoxyxylulose-5-phosphate, the first pathway intermediate in E. coli. However, high rates of IPP incorporation were obtained with addition of dihydroxyacetone phosphate (DHAP) and glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate (GA3P), as well as a variety of pentose phosphate cycle compounds. Fosmidomycin (at 1 μM and 1 mM), an inhibitor of deoxyxylulose-5-phosphate reductoisomerase, did not significantly inhibit phototrophic growth of the cyanobacterium, nor did it affect [14C]IPP incorporation stimulated by DHAP plus GA3P. To date, it has not been possible to unequivocally demonstrate IPP isomerase activity in this cyanobacterium. The combined results suggest that the MEP pathway, as described for E. coli, is not the primary path by which isoprenoids are synthesized under photosynthetic conditions in Synechocystis sp. strain PCC6803. Our data support alternative routes of entry of pentose phosphate cycle substrates derived from photosynthesis.
doi:10.1128/JB.184.18.5045-5051.2002
PMCID: PMC135332  PMID: 12193620
16.  Formal Synthesis of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl D-erythritol From D-(+)-Arabitol 
Tetrahedron  2012;68(43):8937-8941.
2-C-methyl-D-erythritol-4-phosphate (MEP) is a key chemical intermediate of the non-mevalonate pathway for isoprenoid biosynthesis employed by many pathogenic microbes. MEP is also the precursor for the synthesis of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl D-erythritol (CDP-ME), another key intermediate of the non-mevalonate pathway. As this pathway is non-existent in higher animals, including humans, it represents great opportunities for novel antimicrobial development. To facilitate the in-depth studies of this pathway, we reported here a formal synthesis of CDP-ME through a new synthesis of 2-C-Methyl-D-erythritol-4-phosphoric acid from D-(+)-arabitol.
doi:10.1016/j.tet.2012.08.020
PMCID: PMC3462025  PMID: 23049145
MEP; CDP-ME; selective phosphorylation; dioxanone; monophosphate
17.  The Sorbitol Phosphotransferase System Is Responsible for Transport of 2-C-Methyl-d-Erythritol into Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium 
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(2):473-480.
2-C-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate is the first committed intermediate in the biosynthesis of the isoprenoid precursors isopentenyl diphosphate and dimethylallyl diphosphate. Supplementation of the growth medium with 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol has been shown to complement disruptions in the Escherichia coli gene for 1-deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate synthase, the enzyme that synthesizes the immediate precursor of 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate. In order to be utilized in isoprenoid biosynthesis, 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol must be phosphorylated. We describe the construction of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium strain RMC26, in which the essential gene encoding 1-deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate synthase has been disrupted by insertion of a synthetic mevalonate operon consisting of the yeast ERG8, ERG12, and ERG19 genes, responsible for converting mevalonate to isopentenyl diphosphate under the control of an arabinose-inducible promoter. Random mutagenesis of RMC26 produced defects in the sorbitol phosphotransferase system that prevented the transport of 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol into the cell. RMC26 and mutant strains of RMC26 unable to grow on 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol were incubated in buffer containing mevalonate and deuterium-labeled 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol. Ubiquinone-8 was isolated from these cells and analyzed for deuterium content. Efficient incorporation of deuterium was observed for RMC26. However, there was no evidence of deuterium incorporation into the isoprenoid side chain of ubiquinone Q8 in the RMC26 mutants.
doi:10.1128/JB.186.2.473-480.2004
PMCID: PMC305747  PMID: 14702317
18.  Increasing diterpene yield with a modular metabolic engineering system in E. coli: comparison of MEV and MEP isoprenoid precursor pathway engineering 
Engineering biosynthetic pathways in heterologous microbial host organisms offers an elegant approach to pathway elucidation via the incorporation of putative biosynthetic enzymes and characterization of resulting novel metabolites. Our previous work in Escherichia coli demonstrated the feasibility of a facile modular approach to engineering the production of labdane-related diterpene (20 carbon) natural products. However, yield was limited (<0.1 mg/L), presumably due to reliance on endogenous production of the isoprenoid precursors dimethylallyl diphosphate and isopentenyl diphosphate. Here, we report incorporation of either a heterologous mevalonate pathway (MEV) or enhancement of the endogenous methyl erythritol phosphate pathway (MEP) with our modular metabolic engineering system. With MEP pathway enhancement, it was found that pyruvate supplementation of rich media and simultaneous overexpression of three genes (idi, dxs, and dxr) resulted in the greatest increase in diterpene yield, indicating distributed metabolic control within this pathway. Incorporation of a heterologous MEV pathway in bioreactor grown cultures resulted in significantly higher yields than MEP pathway enhancement. We have established suitable growth conditions for diterpene production levels ranging from 10 to >100 mg/L of E. coli culture. These amounts are sufficient for nuclear magnetic resonance analyses, enabling characterization of enzymatic products and hence, pathway elucidation. Furthermore, these results represent an up to >1,000-fold improvement in diterpene production from our facile, modular platform, with MEP pathway enhancement offering a cost effective alternative with reasonable yield. Finally, we reiterate here that this modular approach is expandable and should be easily adaptable to the production of any terpenoid natural product.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00253-009-2219-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s00253-009-2219-x
PMCID: PMC2811251  PMID: 19777230
Terpenoid; Natural products biosynthesis; Metabolic engineering; Isoprenoid
19.  The 2-C-methylerythritol 4-phosphate pathway in melon is regulated by specialized isoforms for the first and last steps 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2014;65(17):5077-5092.
Highlight text
This research describes the role of specialized isoforms encoding regulated steps of the MEP pathway in melon and provides evidence for their functional specialization in seedling greening.
The 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol-4-phosphate (MEP) pathway provides the precursors for the biosynthesis of plastidial isoprenoids, which include the carotenoid pigments of many fruits. We have analysed the genes encoding the seven enzymes of the MEP pathway in melon (Cucumis melo L.) and determined that the first one, 1-deoxyxylulose 5-phosphate synthase (DXS), and the last one, 1-hydroxy-2-methyl-2-(E)-butenyl 4-diphosphate reductase (HDR), are represented in the genome as a small gene family and paralogous pair, respectively. In the case of DXS, three genes encode functional DXS activities which fall into previously established type I (CmDXS1) and II (CmDXS2a and CmDXS2b) categories, while a fourth DXS-like gene belonging to the type III group did not encode a protein with DXS activity. Their expression patterns and phylogenies suggest that CmDXS1 is functionally specialized for developmental and photosynthetic processes, while CmDXS2a and CmDXS2b are induced in flowers and ripening fruit of orange- (but not white-) fleshed varieties, coinciding with β-carotene accumulation. This is the first instance connecting type II DXS genes to specialized isoprenoid biosynthesis in the fruit of an agronomically important species. Two HDR paralogues were shown to encode functional enzymes, although only CmHDR1 was highly expressed in the tissues and developmental stages tested. Phylogenetic analysis showed that in cucurbits such as melon, these HDR paralogues probably arose through individual gene duplications in a common angiosperm ancestor, mimicking a prior division in gymnosperms, while other flowering plants, including apple, soy, canola, and poplar, acquired HDR duplicates recently as homoeologues through large-scale genome duplications. We report the influence of gene duplication history on the regulation of the MEP pathway in melon and the role of specialized MEP-pathway isoforms in providing precursors for β-carotene production in orange-fleshed melon varieties.
doi:10.1093/jxb/eru275
PMCID: PMC4144782  PMID: 25013119
2-C-methylerythritol 4-phosphate; carotenoids; fruit development; isoprenoid biosynthesis; melon; metabolite profiling; phylogenetics; transcript profiling.
20.  Lipophilic Prodrugs of FR900098 Are Antimicrobial against Francisella novicida In Vivo and In Vitro and Show GlpT Independent Efficacy 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e38167.
Bacteria, plants, and algae produce isoprenoids through the methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway, an attractive pathway for antimicrobial drug development as it is present in prokaryotes and some lower eukaryotes but absent from human cells. The first committed step of the MEP pathway is catalyzed by 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate reductoisomerase (DXR/MEP synthase). MEP pathway genes have been identified in many biothreat agents, including Francisella, Brucella, Bacillus, Burkholderia, and Yersinia. The importance of the MEP pathway to Francisella is demonstrated by the fact that MEP pathway mutations are lethal. We have previously established that fosmidomycin inhibits purified MEP synthase (DXR) from F. tularensis LVS. FR900098, the acetyl derivative of fosmidomycin, was found to inhibit the activity of purified DXR from F. tularensis LVS (IC50 = 230 nM). Fosmidomycin and FR900098 are effective against purified DXR from Mycobacterium tuberculosis as well, but have no effect on whole cells because the compounds are too polar to penetrate the thick cell wall. Fosmidomycin requires the GlpT transporter to enter cells, and this is absent in some pathogens, including M. tuberculosis. In this study, we have identified the GlpT homologs in F. novicida and tested transposon insertion mutants of glpT. We showed that FR900098 also requires GlpT for full activity against F. novicida. Thus, we synthesized several FR900098 prodrugs that have lipophilic groups to facilitate their passage through the bacterial cell wall and bypass the requirement for the GlpT transporter. One compound, that we termed “compound 1,” was found to have GlpT-independent antimicrobial activity. We tested the ability of this best performing prodrug to inhibit F. novicida intracellular infection of eukaryotic cell lines and the caterpillar Galleria mellonella as an in vivo infection model. As a lipophilic GlpT-independent DXR inhibitor, compound 1 has the potential to be a broad-spectrum antibiotic, and should be effective against most MEP-dependent organisms.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038167
PMCID: PMC3471904  PMID: 23077474
21.  A Closer Look at the Spectroscopic Properties of Possible Reaction Intermediates in WT and Mutant (E)-4-hydroxy-3-methyl-but-2-enyl Diphosphate Reductase (IspH/LytB)† 
Biochemistry  2012;51(24):4835-4849.
(E)-4-Hydroxy-3-methyl-but-2-enyl diphosphate reductase (IspH or LytB) catalyzes the terminal step of the MEP/DOXP pathway where it converts (E)-4-hydroxy-3-methyl-but-2-enyl diphosphate (HMBPP) into the two products isopentenyl diphosphate and dimethylallyl diphosphate. The reaction involves the reductive elimination of the C4 hydroxyl group, using a total of two electrons. Here we show that the active form of IspH contains a [4Fe-4S] cluster and not the [3Fe-4S] form. Our studies show that the cluster is not only the direct electron source for the reaction but that a reaction intermediate is bound directly to the cluster. This active form, has been trapped in a state, dubbed FeSA, that was detected in EPR spectroscopy when one-electron-reduced IspH was incubated with HMBPP. In addition, three mutants of IspH protein have been prepared and studied, His42, His124 and Glu126 (Aquifex aeolicus numbering), with particular attention to the effects on the cluster properties and possible reaction intermediates. None of the mutants affected the properties of the [4Fe-4S]+ cluster significantly, but different effects were observed when one-electron-reduced forms were incubated with HMBPP. Replacing the His42 led to an increased Km value and much lower catalytic efficiency, confirming the role of this residue in substrate binding. Replacing the His124 also resulted in lower catalytic efficiency. In this case, however, enzyme showed the loss of the [4Fe-4S]+ EPR signal upon addition of HMBPP without the subsequent formation of the FeSA signal. Instead, a radical-type signal was observed in some of the samples indicating that this residue plays a role in the correct positioning of the substrate. The incorrect orientation in the mutant leads to the formation of substrate-based radicals instead of the cluster-bound-intermediate complex FeSA. Replacing the Glu126 also resulted in lower catalytic efficiency, with yet a third type of EPR signal being detected upon incubation with HMBPP. 31P- and 2H-ENDOR measurements on the FeSA species incubated with regular and 2H-C4-labeled HMBPP reveal that the substrate binds to the enzyme in close proximity of the active-site cluster with the C4 adjacent to the site of linkage between the FeS cluster and HMBPP. Comparison of the spectroscopic properties of this intermediate to those of intermediates detected in (E)-4-hydroxy-3-methylbut-2-enyl diphosphate synthase and ferredoxin:thioredoxin reductase suggest that HMBPP binds to the FeS cluster via its hydroxyl group instead of a side-on binding as previously proposed for the species detected in the inactive Glu126 variant. Consequences for the IspH reaction mechanism are discussed.
doi:10.1021/bi3001215
PMCID: PMC3426640  PMID: 22646150
(E)-4-Hydroxy-3-methyl-but-2-enyl diphosphate reductase; IspH; EPR; ENDOR; reaction intermediate
22.  Conformational Dynamics of the Flexible Catalytic Loop in Mycobacterium tuberculosis 1-Deoxy-D-xylulose 5-Phosphate Reductoisomerase 
Chemical biology & drug design  2009;73(1):26-38.
In mycobacteria, the biosynthesis of the precursors to the essential isoprenoids, isopentenyl diphosphate and dimethylallyl pyrophosphate is carried out by the methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway. This route of synthesis is absent in humans, who utilize the alternative mevalonate acid (MVA) route, thus making the enzymes of the MEP pathway of chemotherapeutic interest. One such identified target is the second enzyme of the pathway, 1-Deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate reductoisomerase (DXR). Only limited information is currently available concerning the catalytic mechanism and structural dynamics of this enzyme, and only recently has a crystal structure of Mycobacterium tuberculosis species of this enzyme been resolved including all factors required for binding. Here, the dynamics of the enzyme is studied in complex with NADPH, Mn2+, in the presence and absence of the fosmidomycin inhibitor using conventional molecular dynamics and an enhanced sampling technique, Reversible Digitally Filtered Molecular Dynamics. The simulations reveal significant differences in the conformational dynamics of the vital catalytic loop between the inhibitor-free and inhibitor-bound enzyme complexes and highlight the contributions of conserved residues in this region. The substantial fluctuations observed suggest that DXR may be a promising target for computer-aided drug discovery through the relaxed complex method.
doi:10.1111/j.1747-0285.2008.00749.x
PMCID: PMC2982673  PMID: 19152632
23.  A Whole-Cell Phenotypic Screening Platform for Identifying Methylerythritol Phosphate Pathway-Selective Inhibitors as Novel Antibacterial Agents 
Isoprenoid biosynthesis is essential for survival of all living organisms. More than 50,000 unique isoprenoids occur naturally, with each constructed from two simple five-carbon precursors: isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). Two pathways for the biosynthesis of IPP and DMAPP are found in nature. Humans exclusively use the mevalonate (MVA) pathway, while most bacteria, including all Gram-negative and many Gram-positive species, use the unrelated methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway. Here we report the development of a novel, whole-cell phenotypic screening platform to identify compounds that selectively inhibit the MEP pathway. Strains of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium were engineered to have separately inducible MEP (native) and MVA (nonnative) pathways. These strains, RMC26 and CT31-7d, were then used to differentiate MVA pathway- and MEP pathway-specific perturbation. Compounds that inhibit MEP pathway-dependent bacterial growth but leave MVA-dependent growth unaffected represent MEP pathway-selective antibacterials. This screening platform offers three significant results. First, the compound is antibacterial and is therefore cell permeant, enabling access to the intracellular target. Second, the compound inhibits one or more MEP pathway enzymes. Third, the MVA pathway is unaffected, suggesting selectivity for targeting the bacterial versus host pathway. The cell lines also display increased sensitivity to two reported MEP pathway-specific inhibitors, further biasing the platform toward inhibitors selective for the MEP pathway. We demonstrate development of a robust, high-throughput screening platform that combines phenotypic and target-based screening that can identify MEP pathway-selective antibacterials simply by monitoring optical density as the readout for cell growth/inhibition.
doi:10.1128/AAC.00987-12
PMCID: PMC3421842  PMID: 22777049
24.  Lethal Mutations in the Isoprenoid Pathway of Salmonella enterica 
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(4):1444-1450.
Essential isoprenoid compounds are synthesized using the 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway in many gram-negative bacteria, some gram-positive bacteria, some apicomplexan parasites, and plant chloroplasts. The alternative mevalonate pathway is found in archaea and eukaryotes, including cytosolic biosynthesis in plants. The existence of orthogonal essential pathways in eukaryotes and bacteria makes the MEP pathway an attractive target for the development of antimicrobial agents. A system is described for identifying mutations in the MEP pathway of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. Using this system, point mutations induced by diethyl sulfate were found in the all genes of the essential MEP pathway and also in genes involved in uptake of methylerythritol. Curiously, none of the MEP pathway genes could be identified in the same parent strain by transposon mutagenesis, despite extensive searches. The results complement the biochemical and bioinformatic approaches to the elucidation of the genes involved in the MEP pathway and also identify key residues for activity in the enzymes of the pathway.
doi:10.1128/JB.188.4.1444-1450.2006
PMCID: PMC1367239  PMID: 16452427
25.  Kinetic Characterization and Allosteric Inhibition of the Yersinia pestis 1-Deoxy-D-Xylulose 5-Phosphate Reductoisomerase (MEP Synthase) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e106243.
The methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway found in many bacteria governs the synthesis of isoprenoids, which are crucial lipid precursors for vital cell components such as ubiquinone. Because mammals synthesize isoprenoids via an alternate pathway, the bacterial MEP pathway is an attractive target for novel antibiotic development, necessitated by emerging antibiotic resistance as well as biodefense concerns. The first committed step in the MEP pathway is the reduction and isomerization of 1-deoxy-D-xylulose-5-phosphate (DXP) to methylerythritol phosphate (MEP), catalyzed by MEP synthase. To facilitate drug development, we cloned, expressed, purified, and characterized MEP synthase from Yersinia pestis. Enzyme assays indicate apparent kinetic constants of KMDXP = 252 µM and KMNADPH = 13 µM, IC50 values for fosmidomycin and FR900098 of 710 nM and 231 nM respectively, and Ki values for fosmidomycin and FR900098 of 251 nM and 101 nM respectively. To ascertain if the Y. pestis MEP synthase was amenable to a high-throughput screening campaign, the Z-factor was determined (0.9) then the purified enzyme was screened against a pilot scale library containing rationally designed fosmidomycin analogs and natural product extracts. Several hit molecules were obtained, most notably a natural product allosteric affector of MEP synthase and a rationally designed bisubstrate derivative of FR900098 (able to associate with both the NADPH and DXP binding sites in MEP synthase). It is particularly noteworthy that allosteric regulation of MEP synthase has not been described previously. Thus, our discovery implicates an alternative site (and new chemical space) for rational drug development.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0106243
PMCID: PMC4149570  PMID: 25171339

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