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1.  Staphylococcus aureus Mevalonate Kinase: Isolation and Characterization of an Enzyme of the Isoprenoid Biosynthetic Pathway 
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(1):61-67.
It has been proposed that isoprenoid biosynthesis in several gram-positive cocci depends on the mevalonate pathway for conversion of acetyl coenzyme A to isopentenyl diphosphate. Mevalonate kinase catalyzes a key reaction in this pathway. In this study the enzyme from Staphylococcus aureus was expressed in Escherichia coli, isolated in a highly purified form, and characterized. The overall amino acid sequence of this enzyme was very heterologous compared with the sequences of eukaryotic mevalonate kinases. Analysis by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and analytical gel filtration chromatography suggested that the native enzyme is a monomer with a molecular mass of approximately 33 kDa. The specific activity was 12 U/mg, and the pH optimum was 7.0 to 8.5. The apparent Km values for R,S-mevalonate and ATP were 41 and 339 μM, respectively. There was substantial substrate inhibition at millimolar levels of mevalonate. The sensitivity to feedback inhibition by farnesyl diphosphate and its sulfur-containing analog, farnesyl thiodiphosphate, was characterized. These compounds were competitive inhibitors with respect to ATP; the Ki values were 46 and 45 μM for farnesyl diphosphate and its thio analog, respectively. Parallel measurements with heterologous eukaryotic mevalonate kinases indicated that S. aureus mevalonate kinase is much less sensitive to feedback inhibition (Ki difference, 3 orders of magnitude) than the human enzyme. In contrast, both enzymes tightly bound trinitrophenyl-ATP, a fluorescent substrate analog, suggesting that there are similarities in structural features that are important for catalytic function.
PMCID: PMC303434  PMID: 14679225
2.  Structural Basis for Nucleotide Binding and Reaction Catalysis in Mevalonate Diphosphate Decarboxylase† 
Biochemistry  2012;51(28):5611-5621.
Mevalonate diphosphate decarboxylase (MDD) catalyzes the final step of the mevalonate pathway, the Mg++-ATP dependent decarboxylation of mevalonate 5-diphosphate (MVAPP), producing isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP). Synthesis of IPP, an isoprenoid precursor molecule that is a critical intermediate in peptidoglycan and polyisoprenoid biosynthesis, is essential in Gram-positive bacteria (e.g. Staphylococcus, Streptococcus and Enterococcus spp.) and thus the enzymes of the mevalonate pathway are ideal antimicrobial targets. MDD belongs to the GHMP superfamily of small molecule (i.e. metabolite) kinases that have been extensively studied for the past 50 years, yet the crystallization of GHMP kinase ternary complexes has proven difficult. To further our understanding of the catalytic mechanism of GHMP kinases with the purpose of developing broad spectrum antimicrobial agents that target the substrate and nucleotide binding sites, we report the crystal structures of wild-type and mutant (S192A and D283A) ternary complexes of Staphylococcus epidermidis MDD. Comparison of apo-, MVAPP-bound and ternary complexed wild-type MDD provides structural information on the mode of substrate binding and the catalytic mechanism. Structural characterization of ternary complexes of catalytically deficient MDD S192A and D283A (decreased kcat of 103-fold and 105-fold, respectively) provides insight into MDD function. The carboxylate side chain of invariant Asp283 functions as a catalytic base and is essential to the proper orientation of the MVAPP C3-hydroxyl group within the active site funnel. Several MDD amino acids within the conserved phosphate binding loop (‘P-loop’) provide key interactions, stabilizing the nucleotide triphosphoryl moiety. The crystal structures presented here provide a useful foundation for structure-based drug design.
PMCID: PMC4227304  PMID: 22734632
3.  Transport of mevalonate by Pseudomonas sp. strain M. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1984;160(1):294-298.
Pseudomonas sp. M, isolated from soil by elective culture on R,S-mevalonate as the sole source of carbon, possessed an inducible transport system for mevalonate. This high-affinity system had a pH optimum of 7.0, a temperature optimum of 30 degrees C, a Km for R,S-mevalonate of 88 microM, and a V max of 26 nmol of mevalonate transported per min/mg of cells (dry weight). Transport was energy dependent since azide, cyanide, or m-chlorophenylhydrazone caused complete cessation of transport activity. Transport of mevalonate was highly substrate specific. Of the 16 structural analogs of mevalonate tested, only acetoacetate, mevinolin, and mevaldehyde significantly inhibited transport. Growth of cells on mevalonate induced transport activity by 40- to 65-fold over that observed in cells grown on alternate carbon sources. A biphasic pattern for cell growth, as well as for induction of mevalonate transport activity, was observed when mevalonate was added to a culture actively growing on glucose. The induction of transport activity under these conditions began within 30 min after the addition of mevalonate and reached 60% of maximal activity during phase I. A further increase in mevalonate transport activity occurred during phase II of growth. Glucose was the preferred carbon source for growth during phase I, whereas mevalonate was preferred during phase II. Only one isomer of the R,S-mevalonate mixture appeared to be utilized, since growth ceased after 45 to 50% of the total mevalonate was depleted from the medium. However, nearly 30% of the preferred mevalonate isomer was depleted from the medium during phase I without significant metabolism to CO2. These results suggest that mevalonate or a mevalonate catabolite may accumulate in cells of Pseudomonas sp. M during phase I and that glucose metabolism may inhibit or repress the expression of enzymes further along the mevalonate catabolic pathway.
PMCID: PMC214715  PMID: 6434521
4.  Substrate Induced Structural and Dynamics Changes in Human Phosphomevalonate Kinase and Implications for Mechanism 
Proteins  2009;75(1):127-138.
Phosphomevalonate kinase (PMK) catalyzes an essential step in the mevalonate pathway, which is the only pathway for synthesis of isoprenoids and steroids in humans. PMK catalyzes transfer of the γ-phosphate of ATP to mevalonate 5-phosphate (M5P) to form mevalonate 5-diphosphate. Bringing these phosphate groups in proximity to react is especially challenging, given the high negative charge density on the four phosphate groups in the active site. As such, conformational and dynamics changes needed to form the Michaelis complex are of mechanistic interest. Herein, we report the characterization of substrate induced changes (Mg-ADP, M5P, and the ternary complex) in PMK, using NMR-based dynamics and chemical shift perturbation measurements. Mg-ADP and M5P Kd's were 6-60 μM in all complexes, consistent with there being little binding synergy. Binding of M5P causes the PMK structure to compress (τc= 13.5 nsec), while subsequent binding of Mg-ADP opens the structure up (τc= 17.6 nsec). The overall complex seems to stay very rigid on the psec-nsec timescale with an average NMR order parameter of S2∼0.88. Data are consistent with addition of M5P causing movement around a hinge region to permit domain closure, which would bring the M5P domain close to ATP to permit catalysis. Dynamics data identify potential hinge residues as H55 and R93, based on their low order parameters and their location in extended regions that connect the M5P and ATP domains in the PMK homology model. Likewise, D163 may be a hinge residue for the lid region that is homologous to the adenylate kinase lid, covering the “Walker-A” catalytic loop. Binding of ATP or ADP appears to cause similar conformational changes; but, these observations do not indicate an obvious role for γ-phosphate binding interactions. Indeed, the role of γ-phosphate interactions may be more subtle than suggested by ATP/ADP comparisons, since the conservative O to NH substitution in the β-γ bridge of ATP causes a dramatic decrease in affinity and induces few chemical shift perturbations. In terms of positioning of catalytic residues, binding of M5P induces a rigidification of Gly21 (adjacent to the catalytically important Lys22), although exchange broadening in the ternary complex suggests some motion on a slower timescale does still occur. Finally, the first 9 residues of the N-terminus are highly disordered, suggesting they may be part of a cleavable signal or regulatory peptide sequence.
PMCID: PMC2649974  PMID: 18798562
Phosphomevalonate kinase; chemical shift perturbation; relaxation dynamics; mevalonate; NMR; Modelfree
5.  Structure of the Ternary Complex of Phosphomevalonate Kinase — The Enzyme and its Family‡ 
Biochemistry  2009;48(27):6461-6468.
The Galacto-, Homoserine-, Mevalonate-, Phosphomevalonate-kinase (GHMP) superfamily encompases a wide-range of protein function. Three members of the family (mevalonate kinase, phosphomevalonate kinase and diphosphomevalonate decarboxylase) comprise the mevalonate pathway found in S. pneumoniae and other organisms. We have determined the 1.9 Å crystal structure of phosphomevalonate kinase (PMK) from S. pneumoniae in complex with phosphomevalonate and AMPPNP·Mg2+. Comparison of the apo and ternary PMK structures suggests that ligand binding reverses the side-chain orientations of two anti-parallel lysines residues (100 and 101) with the result that lys101 is “switched” into a position in which its ammonium ion is in direct contact with the β,γ-bridging atom of the nucleotide, where it is expected to stabilize both the ground and transition states of the reaction. Analysis of all available GHMP kinase ternary-complex structures reveals that while their Cα-scaffolds are highly conserved, their substrates bind in one of two conformations, which appear to be either reactive or non-reactive. The active site of PMK seems spacious enough to accommodate interconversion of the reactive and nonreactive conformers. A substantial fraction of the PMK active site is occupied by ordered water, which clusters near the charged regions of substrate. Notably, a water pentamer that interacts extensively with the reactive groups of both substrates was discovered at the active site.
PMCID: PMC2913249  PMID: 19485344
phosphomevalonate kinase; mevalonate pathway; isoprenoid; structure
6.  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.
PMCID: PMC2655357  PMID: 18422643
enzyme–ligand complex; GHMP kinase; isoprenoid biosynthesis; molecular recognition; non-mevalonate pathway
7.  Molecular Docking and NMR Binding Studies to Identify Novel Inhibitors of Human Phosphomevalonate Kinase 
Phosphomevalonate kinase (PMK) phosphorylates mevalonate-5-phosphate (M5P) in the mevalonate pathway, which is the sole source of isoprenoids and steroids in humans. We have identified new PMK inhibitors with virtual screening, using Autodock. Promising hits were verified and their affinity measured using NMR-based 1H-15N Heteronuclear Single Quantum Coherence (HSQC) chemical shift perturbation and fluorescence titrations. Chemical shift changes were monitored, plotted, and fitted to obtain dissociation constants (Kd). Tight binding compounds with Kd’s ranging from 6–60 µM were identified. These compounds tended to have significant polarity and negative charge, similar to the natural substrates (M5P and ATP). HSQC crosspeak changes suggest that binding induces a global conformational change, such as domain closure. Compounds identified in this study serve as chemical genetic probes of human PMK, to explore pharmacology of the mevalonate pathway, as well as starting points for further drug development.
PMCID: PMC3544975  PMID: 23146631
Human phosphomevalonate kinase; inhibitors; virtual screening; molecular docking
8.  Human mevalonate diphosphate decarboxylase: Characterization, investigation of the mevalonate diphosphate binding site, and crystal structure 
Expression in E. coli of his-tagged human mevalonate diphosphate decarboxylase (hMDD) has expedited enzyme isolation, characterization, functional investigation of the mevalonate diphosphate binding site, and crystal structure determination (2.4 Å resolution). hMDD exhibits Vmax = 6.1 ± 0.5 U/mg; Km for ATP is 0.69 ± 0.07 mM and Km for (R,S) mevalonate diphosphate is 28.9 ± 3.3 uM. Conserved polar residues predicted to be in the hMDD active site were mutated to test functional importance. R161Q exhibits a ~1000-fold diminution in specific activity, while binding the fluorescent substrate analog, TNP-ATP, like wild-type enzyme. Diphosphoglycolyl proline (Ki = 2.3 ± 0.3 uM) and 6-fluoromevalonate 5-diphosphate (Ki = 62 ± 5 nM) are competitive inhibitors with respect to mevalonate diphosphate. N17A exhibits a Vmax = 0.25 ± 0.02 U/mg and a 15-fold inflation in Km for mevalonate diphosphate. N17A’s Ki values for diphosphoglycolyl proline and fluoromevalonate diphosphate are inflated (>70-fold and 40-fold, respectively) in comparison with wild-type enzyme. hMDD structure indicates the proximity (2.8 Å) between R161 and N17, which are located in an interior pocket of the active site cleft. The data suggest the functional importance of R161 and N17 in the binding and orientation of mevalonate diphosphate.
PMCID: PMC2709241  PMID: 18823933
human mevalonate diphosphate decarboxylase; isoprenoid biosynthesis; mevalonate pathway; competitive inhibition; active site function; protein structure
9.  Mevalonate Analogues as Substrates of Enzymes in the Isoprenoid Biosynthetic Pathway of Streptococcus pneumoniae 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry  2009;18(3):1124-1134.
Survival of the human pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae requires a functional mevalonate pathway, which produces isopentenyl diphosphate, the essential building block of isoprenoids. Flux through this pathway appears to be regulated at the mevalonate kinase (MK) step, which is strongly feedback-inhibited by diphosphomevalonate (DPM), the penultimate compound in the pathway. The human mevalonate pathway is not regulated by DPM, making the bacterial pathway an attractive antibiotic target. Since DPM has poor drug characteristics, being highly charged, we propose to use unphosphorylated, cell-permeable prodrugs based on mevalonate that will be phosphorylated in turn by MK and phosphomevalonate kinase (PMK) to generate the active compound in situ. To test the limits of this approach, we synthesized a series of C3-substituted mevalonate analogues to probe the steric and electronic requirements of the MK and PMK active sites. MK and PMK accepted substrates with up to two additional carbons, showing a preference for small substitutents. This result establishes the feasibility of using a prodrug strategy for DPM-based antibiotics in S. pneumoniae and identified several analogues to be tested as inhibitors of MK. Among the substrates accepted by both enzymes were cyclopropyl, vinyl, and ethynyl mevalonate analogues that, when diphosphorylated, might be mechanism-based inactivators of the next enzyme in the pathway, diphosphomevalonate decarboxylase.
PMCID: PMC2842986  PMID: 20056424
Isoprenoid pathway; mevalonic acid; phosphomevalonic acid; diphosphomevalonic acid; mevalonate kinase; phosphomevalonate kinase; diphosphomevalonate decarboxylase; prodrug
10.  A preliminary crystallographic analysis of the putative mevalonate diphosphate decarboxylase from Trypanosoma brucei  
The gene encoding the putative mevalonate diphosphate decarboxylase, an enzyme from the mevalonate pathway of isoprenoid precursor biosynthesis, has been cloned from T. brucei. Recombinant protein has been expressed, purified and highly ordered crystals obtained and characterized to aid the structure–function analysis of this enzyme.
Mevalonate diphosphate decarboxylase catalyses the last and least well characterized step in the mevalonate pathway for the biosynthesis of isopentenyl pyrophosphate, an isoprenoid precursor. A gene predicted to encode the enzyme from Trypanosoma brucei has been cloned, a highly efficient expression system established and a purification protocol determined. The enzyme gives monoclinic crystals in space group P21, with unit-cell parameters a = 51.5, b = 168.7, c = 54.9 Å, β = 118.8°. A Matthews coefficient V M of 2.5 Å3 Da−1 corresponds to two monomers, each approximately 42 kDa (385 residues), in the asymmetric unit with 50% solvent content. These crystals are well ordered and data to high resolution have been recorded using synchrotron radiation.
PMCID: PMC1952329  PMID: 16511101
decarboxylases; mevalonate biosynthesis; isoprenoids; Trypanosoma
11.  Functional Evaluation of Conserved Basic Residues in Human Phosphomevalonate Kinase.† 
Biochemistry  2007;46(42):11780-11788.
Phosphomevalonate kinase (PMK) catalyzes the cation dependent reaction of mevalonate 5-phosphate with ATP to form mevalonate 5-diphosphate and ADP, a key step in the mevalonate pathway for isoprenoid/sterol biosynthesis. Animal PMK proteins belong to the nucleoside monophosphate (NMP) kinase family. For many NMP kinases, multiple basic residues contribute to the neutralization of the negatively charged pentacoordinate phosphate reaction intermediate. Loss of basicity can result in catalytically impaired enzymes. Based on this precedent, conserved basic residues of human PMK have been mutated and purified forms of the mutated proteins have been kinetically and biophysically characterized. K48M and R73M mutants exhibit diminished Vmax values in both reaction directions (>1000-fold) with only slight Km perturbations (<10-fold). In both forward and reverse reactions, R110M exhibits a large (>10,000-fold) specific activity diminution. R111M exhibits substantially inflated Km values for mevalonate 5-phosphate and mevalonate 5-diphosphate (60 and 30-fold, respectively) as well as decreases (50-fold (forward) and 85-fold (reverse)) in Vmax. R84M also exhibits inflated Km values (50 and 33-fold for mevalonate 5-phosphate and mevalonate 5-diphosphate, respectively). The Ki values for R111M and R84M product inhibition by mevalonate 5-diphosphate are inflated by 45- and 63-fold; effects are comparable to the 30- and 38-fold inflations in Km for mevalonate 5-diphosphate. R141M exhibits little perturbation in Vmax (14-fold (forward) and 10-fold (reverse)) but has inflated Km values for ATP and ADP (48 and 136-fold, respectively). The Kd of ATP for R141M, determined by changes in tryptophan fluorescence, is inflated 27-fold compared to wt PMK. These data suggest that R110 is important to PMK catalysis, which is also influenced by K48 and R73. R111 and R84 contribute to binding of mevalonate 5-phosphate and R141 to binding of ATP.
PMCID: PMC2530820  PMID: 17902708
12.  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 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.
PMCID: PMC2833027  PMID: 20208151
mevalonate-independent pathway; isoprenoid biosynthesis; kinases
13.  The Streptomyces-produced antibiotic fosfomycin is a promiscuous substrate for Archaeal isopentenyl phosphate kinase 
Biochemistry  2012;51(4):917-925.
Isopentenyl phosphate kinase (IPK) catalyzes the phosphorylation of isopentenyl phosphate to form the isoprenoid precursor isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) in the archaeal mevalonate pathway. This enzyme is highly homologous to fosfomycin kinase (FomA), an antibiotic resistance enzyme found in a few strains of Streptomyces and Pseudomonas whose mode of action is inactivation by phosphorylation. Superposition of Thermoplasma acidophilum (THA) IPK and FomA structures aligns their respective substrates and catalytic residues, including H50 and K14 in THA IPK, and H58 and K18 in S. wedmorensis FomA. These residues are conserved only in the IPK and FomA members of the phosphate subdivision of the amino acid kinase superfamily. We measured the fosfomycin kinase activity of THA IPK, Km = 15.1 ± 1.0 mM and kcat = (4.0 ± 0.1) × 10−2 s−1, resulting in a catalytic efficiency, kcat/Km = 2.6 M−1s−1, that is five orders of magnitude less than the native reaction. Fosfomycin is a competitive inhibitor of IPK, Ki = 3.6 ± 0.2 mM. Molecular dynamics simulation of the IPK•fosfomycin•MgATP complex identified two binding poses for fosfomycin in the IP binding site, one of which results in a complex analogous to the native IPK•IP•ATP complex that it engages H50 and the lysine triangle formed by K5, K14, and K205. The other binding pose leads to a dead-end complex that engages K204 near the IP binding site to bind fosfomycin. Our findings suggest a mechanism for acquisition of FomA-based antibiotic resistance in fosfomycin producing organisms.
PMCID: PMC3273622  PMID: 22148590
The mevalonate pathway accounts for conversion of acetyl-CoA to isopentenyl 5-diphosphate, the versatile precursor of polyisoprenoid metabolites and natural products. The pathway functions in most eukaryotes, archaea, and some eubacteria. Only recently has much of the functional and structural basis for this metabolism been reported. The biosynthetic acetoacetyl-CoA thiolase and HMG-CoA synthase reactions rely on key amino acids that are different but are situated in active sites that are similar throughout the family of initial condensation enzymes. Both bacterial and animal HMG-CoA reductases have been extensively studied and the contrasts between these proteins and their interactions with statin inhibitors defined. The conversion of mevalonic acid to isopentenyl 5-diphosphate involves three ATP-dependent phosphorylation reactions. While bacterial enzymes responsible for these three reactions share a common protein fold, animal enzymes differ in this respect as the recently reported structure of human phosphomevalonate kinase demonstrates. There are significant contrasts between observations on metabolite inhibition of mevalonate phosphorylation in bacteria and animals. The structural basis for these contrasts has also recently been reported. Alternatives to the phosphomevalonate kinase and mevalonate diphosphate decarboxylase reactions may exist in archaea. Thus, new details regarding isopentenyl diphosphate synthesis from acetyl-CoA continue to emerge.
PMCID: PMC3026612  PMID: 20932952
mevalonate pathway; isoprenoid biosynthesis; HMG-CoA; sterol biosynthesis
15.  Crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction analysis of mevalonate kinase from Methanosarcina mazei  
Recombinant mevalonate kinase from M. mazei has been crystallized. Diffraction data were collected to 2.08 Å resolution.
Mevalonate kinase (MVK), which plays an important role in catalysing the biosynthesis of isoprenoid compounds derived from the mevalonate pathway, transforms mevalonate to 5-phosphomevalonate using ATP as a cofactor. Mevalonate kinase from Methanosarcina mazei (MmMVK) was expressed in Escherichia coli, purified and crystallized for structural analysis. Diffraction-quality crystals of MmMVK were obtained by the vapour-diffusion method using 0.32 M MgCl2, 0.08 M bis-tris pH 5.5, 16%(w/v) PEG 3350. The crystals belonged to space group P21212, with unit-cell parameters a = 97.11, b = 135.92, c = 46.03 Å. Diffraction data were collected to 2.08 Å resolution.
PMCID: PMC3509989  PMID: 23192048
mevalonate kinase; Methanosarcina mazei; multiple-wavelength anomalous dispersion
16.  X-ray structures of isopentenyl phosphate kinase 
ACS chemical biology  2010;5(5):517-527.
Isoprenoid compounds are ubiquitous in nature, participating in important biological phenomena such as signal transduction, aerobic cellular respiration, photosynthesis, insect communication, and many others. They are derived from the 5-carbon isoprenoid substrates isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and its isomer dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). In Archaea and Eukarya, these building blocks are synthesized via the mevalonate pathway. However, the genes required to convert mevalonate phosphate (MP) to IPP are missing in several species of Archaea. An enzyme with isopentenyl phosphate kinase (IPK) activity was recently discovered in Methanocaldococcus jannaschii (MJ), suggesting a departure from the classical sequence of converting MP to IPP. We have determined the high-resolution crystal structures of isopentenyl phosphate kinases in complex with both substrates and products from Thermoplasma acidophilum (THA), as well as the IPK from Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus (MTH), by means of single-wavelength anomalous diffraction (SAD) and molecular replacement. A histidine residue (His50) in THA IPK makes a hydrogen bond with the terminal phosphates of IP and IPP, poising these molecules for phosphoryl transfer through an in-line geometry. Moreover, a lysine residue (Lys14) makes hydrogen bonds with non-bridging oxygen atoms at Pα and Pγ and with the Pβ- Pγ bridging oxygen atom in ATP. These interactions suggest a transition state-stabilizing role for this residue. Lys14 is a part of a newly discovered “lysine triangle” catalytic motif in IPK’s that also includes Lys5 and Lys205. Moreover, His50, Lys5, Lys14, and Lys205 are conserved in all IPK’s and can therefore serve as fingerprints for identifying new homologues.
PMCID: PMC2879073  PMID: 20402538
17.  Kinetics of Phosphomevalonate Kinase from Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87112.
The mevalonate-based isoprenoid biosynthetic pathway is responsible for producing cholesterol in humans and is used commercially to produce drugs, chemicals, and fuels. Heterologous expression of this pathway in Escherichia coli has enabled high-level production of the antimalarial drug artemisinin and the proposed biofuel bisabolane. Understanding the kinetics of the enzymes in the biosynthetic pathway is critical to optimize the pathway for high flux. We have characterized the kinetic parameters of phosphomevalonate kinase (PMK, EC from Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a previously unstudied enzyme. An E. coli codon-optimized version of the S. cerevisiae gene was cloned into pET-52b+, then the C-terminal 6X His-tagged protein was expressed in E. coli BL21(DE3) and purified on a Ni2+ column. The KM of the ATP binding site was determined to be 98.3 µM at 30°C, the optimal growth temperature for S. cerevisiae, and 74.3 µM at 37°C, the optimal growth temperature for E. coli. The KM of the mevalonate-5-phosphate binding site was determined to be 885 µM at 30°C and 880 µM at 37°C. The Vmax was determined to be 4.51 µmol/min/mg enzyme at 30°C and 5.33 µmol/min/mg enzyme at 37°C. PMK is Mg2+ dependent, with maximal activity achieved at concentrations of 10 mM or greater. Maximum activity was observed at pH = 7.2. PMK was not found to be substrate inhibited, nor feedback inhibited by FPP at concentrations up to 10 µM FPP.
PMCID: PMC3903622  PMID: 24475236
18.  Mutation of Archaeal Isopentenyl Phosphate Kinase Highlights Mechanism and Guides Phosphorylation of Additional Isoprenoid Monophosphates 
ACS Chemical Biology  2010;5(6):589-601.
The biosynthesis of isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) from either the mevalonate (MVA) or the 1-deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate (DXP) pathway provides the key metabolite for primary and secondary isoprenoid biosynthesis. Isoprenoid metabolism plays crucial roles in membrane stability, steroid biosynthesis, vitamin production, protein localization, defense and communication, photoprotection, sugar transport, and glycoprotein biosynthesis. Recently, an alternative branch of the MVA pathway was discovered in the archaeon Methanocaldococcus jannaschii involving a small molecule kinase, isopentenyl phosphate kinase (IPK). IPK belongs to the amino acid kinase (AAK) superfamily. In vitro, IPK phosphorylates isopentenyl monophosphate (IP) in an ATP and Mg2+-dependent reaction producing IPP. Here, we describe crystal structures of IPK from M. jannaschii refined to nominal resolutions of 2.0−2.8 Å. Notably, an active site histidine residue (His60) forms a hydrogen bond with the terminal phosphate of both substrate and product. This His residue serves as a marker for a subset of the AAK family that catalyzes phosphorylation of phosphate or phosphonate functional groups; the larger family includes carboxyl-directed kinases, which lack this active site residue. Using steady-state kinetic analysis of H60A, H60N, and H60Q mutants, the protonated form of the Nε2 nitrogen of His60 was shown to be essential for catalysis, most likely through hydrogen bond stabilization of the transition state accompanying transphosphorylation. Moreover, the structures served as the starting point for the engineering of IPK mutants capable of the chemoenzymatic synthesis of longer chain isoprenoid diphosphates from monophosphate precursors.
PMCID: PMC2887675  PMID: 20392112
19.  Identification, Evolution, and Essentiality of the Mevalonate Pathway for Isopentenyl Diphosphate Biosynthesis in Gram-Positive Cocci 
Journal of Bacteriology  2000;182(15):4319-4327.
The mevalonate pathway and the glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate (GAP)–pyruvate pathway are alternative routes for the biosynthesis of the central isoprenoid precursor, isopentenyl diphosphate. Genomic analysis revealed that the staphylococci, streptococci, and enterococci possess genes predicted to encode all of the enzymes of the mevalonate pathway and not the GAP-pyruvate pathway, unlike Bacillus subtilis and most gram-negative bacteria studied, which possess only components of the latter pathway. Phylogenetic and comparative genome analyses suggest that the genes for mevalonate biosynthesis in gram-positive cocci, which are highly divergent from those of mammals, were horizontally transferred from a primitive eukaryotic cell. Enterococci uniquely encode a bifunctional protein predicted to possess both 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase and acetyl-CoA acetyltransferase activities. Genetic disruption experiments have shown that five genes encoding proteins involved in this pathway (HMG-CoA synthase, HMG-CoA reductase, mevalonate kinase, phosphomevalonate kinase, and mevalonate diphosphate decarboxylase) are essential for the in vitro growth of Streptococcus pneumoniae under standard conditions. Allelic replacement of the HMG-CoA synthase gene rendered the organism auxotrophic for mevalonate and severely attenuated in a murine respiratory tract infection model. The mevalonate pathway thus represents a potential antibacterial target in the low-G+C gram-positive cocci.
PMCID: PMC101949  PMID: 10894743
20.  An Enzymatic Platform for the Synthesis of Isoprenoid Precursors 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e105594.
The isoprenoid family of compounds is estimated to contain ∼65,000 unique structures including medicines, fragrances, and biofuels. Due to their structural complexity, many isoprenoids can only be obtained by extraction from natural sources, an inherently risky and costly process. Consequently, the biotechnology industry is attempting to genetically engineer microorganisms that can produce isoprenoid-based drugs and fuels on a commercial scale. Isoprenoid backbones are constructed from two, five-carbon building blocks, isopentenyl 5-pyrophosphate and dimethylallyl 5-pyrophosphate, which are end-products of either the mevalonate or non-mevalonate pathways. By linking the HMG-CoA reductase pathway (which produces mevalonate) to the mevalonate pathway, these building block can be synthesized enzymatically from acetate, ATP, NAD(P)H and CoA. Here, the enzymes in these pathways are used to produce pathway intermediates and end-products in single-pot reactions and in remarkably high yield, ∼85%. A strategy for the regio-specific incorporation of isotopes into isoprenoid backbones is developed and used to synthesize a series of isotopomers of diphosphomevalonate, the immediate end-product of the mevalonate pathway. The enzymatic system is shown to be robust and capable of producing quantities of product in aqueous solutions that meet or exceed the highest levels achieved using genetically engineered organisms in high-density fermentation.
PMCID: PMC4143292  PMID: 25153179
21.  Enterococcus faecalis 3-Hydroxy-3-Methylglutaryl Coenzyme A Synthase, an Enzyme of Isopentenyl Diphosphate Biosynthesis†  
Journal of Bacteriology  2002;184(15):4065-4070.
Biosynthesis of the isoprenoid precursor isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) proceeds via two distinct pathways. Sequence comparisons and microbiological data suggest that multidrug-resistant strains of gram-positive cocci employ exclusively the mevalonate pathway for IPP biosynthesis. Bacterial mevalonate pathway enzymes therefore offer potential targets for development of active site-directed inhibitors for use as antibiotics. We used the PCR and Enterococcus faecalis genomic DNA to isolate the mvaS gene that encodes 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) synthase, the second enzyme of the mevalonate pathway. mvaS was expressed in Escherichia coli from a pET28 vector with an attached N-terminal histidine tag. The expressed enzyme was purified by affinity chromatography on Ni2+-agarose to apparent homogeneity and a specific activity of 10 μmol/min/mg. Analytical ultracentrifugation showed that the enzyme is a dimer (mass, 83.9 kDa; s20,w, 5.3). Optimal activity occurred in 2.0 mM MgCl2 at 37oC. The ΔHa was 6,000 cal. The pH activity profile, optimum activity at pH 9.8, yielded a pKa of 8.8 for a dissociating group, presumably Glu78. The stoichiometry per monomer of acetyl-CoA binding was 1.2 ± 0.2 and that of covalent acetylation was 0.60 ± 0.02. The Km for the hydrolysis of acetyl-CoA was 10 μM. Coupled conversion of acetyl-CoA to mevalonate was demonstrated by using HMG-CoA synthase and acetoacetyl-CoA thiolase/HMG-CoA reductase from E. faecalis.
PMCID: PMC135212  PMID: 12107122
22.  Discovery of a metabolic alternative to the classical mevalonate pathway 
eLife  2013;2:e00672.
Eukarya, Archaea, and some Bacteria encode all or part of the essential mevalonate (MVA) metabolic pathway clinically modulated using statins. Curiously, two components of the MVA pathway are often absent from archaeal genomes. The search for these missing elements led to the discovery of isopentenyl phosphate kinase (IPK), one of two activities necessary to furnish the universal five-carbon isoprenoid building block, isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP). Unexpectedly, we now report functional IPKs also exist in Bacteria and Eukarya. Furthermore, amongst a subset of species within the bacterial phylum Chloroflexi, we identified a new enzyme catalyzing the missing decarboxylative step of the putative alternative MVA pathway. These results demonstrate, for the first time, a functioning alternative MVA pathway. Key to this pathway is the catalytic actions of a newly uncovered enzyme, mevalonate phosphate decarboxylase (MPD) and IPK. Together, these two discoveries suggest that unforeseen variation in isoprenoid metabolism may be widespread in nature.
eLife digest
Living things make thousands of chemicals that are vital for life, and are also useful as medicines, perfumes, and food additives. The largest family of these natural chemicals is called the isoprenoids, and members of this family are found in all three domains of life: the eukaryotes (such as plants and animals), the Archaea (an ancient group of single-celled microbes), and bacteria.
The isoprenoids are made from a smaller building block called isopentenyl diphosphate, IPP for short, that contains five carbon atoms and two phosphate groups. IPP can be produced in two ways. The classical mevalonate pathway is found in most eukaryotes, including humans; statin drugs are used to inhibit this pathway to treat those with high cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. The second pathway does not use the compound mevalonate and is found in many, but not all, bacteria as well as the chloroplasts of plants. Until recently, however, the enzymes needed for the last two steps of the classical mevalonate pathway appeared to be missing in the Archaea and in some bacteria.
Researchers subsequently discovered that an enzyme called isopentenyl phosphate kinase, shortened to IPK, was responsible for one of these two missing steps—the addition of IPP’s second phosphate group. The way this enzyme worked also suggested that there was an alternative mevalonate pathway in which the order of the last two steps was reversed. However, the identity of the enzyme responsible for the other step—the removal of a molecule of carbon dioxide to make the starting material needed by IPK—remained mysterious.
Now Dellas et al. have discovered the enzyme responsible for this missing step in Green non-sulphur bacteria, confirming the existence of the alternative mevalonate pathway for the first time. Previously it had been thought that this enzyme acted in the classical mevalonate pathway; but in fact this enzyme has evolved a new function and is not involved in the classical pathway at all. Moreover, Dellas et al. show that Green non-sulphur bacteria, and some eukaryotes, also have functional IPK enzymes. This means that IPK has now unexpectedly been observed in all three domains of life, and hints at another target to medically control mevalonate pathways. The discovery of the missing enzyme in the alternative pathway opens the door to the re-examination of many other living things, to find which have the new pathway and to work out why.
PMCID: PMC3857490  PMID: 24327557
Mevalonate pathway; Isopentenyl diphosphate; Archaea; Mevalonate phosphate decarboxylase; Chloroflexi; Plants; Arabidopsis; Other
23.  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.
PMCID: PMC305747  PMID: 14702317
24.  Defects in the N-Linked Oligosaccharide Biosynthetic Pathway in a Trypanosoma brucei Glycosylation Mutant†  
Eukaryotic Cell  2004;3(2):255-263.
Concanavalin A (ConA) kills the procyclic (insect) form of Trypanosoma brucei by binding to its major surface glycoprotein, procyclin. We previously isolated a mutant cell line, ConA 1-1, that is less agglutinated and more resistant to ConA killing than are wild-type (WT) cells. Subsequently we found that the ConA resistance phenotype in this mutant is due to the fact that the procyclin either has no N-glycan or has an N-glycan with an altered structure. Here we demonstrate that the alteration in procyclin N-glycosylation correlates with two defects in the N-linked oligosaccharide biosynthetic pathway. First, ConA 1-1 has a defect in activity of polyprenol reductase, an enzyme involved in synthesis of dolichol. Metabolic incorporation of [3H]mevalonate showed that ConA 1-1 synthesizes equal amounts of dolichol and polyprenol, whereas WT cells make predominantly dolichol. Second, we found that ConA 1-1 synthesizes and accumulates an oligosaccharide lipid (OSL) precursor that is smaller in size than that from WT cells. The glycan of OSL in WT cells is apparently Man9GlcNAc2, whereas that from ConA 1-1 is Man7GlcNAc2. The smaller OSL glycan in the ConA 1-1 explains how some procyclin polypeptides bear a Man4GlcNAc2 modified with a terminal N-acetyllactosamine group, which is poorly recognized by ConA.
PMCID: PMC387663  PMID: 15075256
25.  Defects in Mitochondrial Clearance Predispose Human Monocytes to Interleukin-1β Hypersecretion 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2013;289(8):5000-5012.
Background: Periodic fever syndromes are caused by deregulation of interleukin-1β release.
Results: Defective autophagy leads to accumulation of damaged mitochondria in monocytes.
Conclusion: Mitochondrial components in the cytosol cause priming of monocytes for interleukin-1β release.
Significance: The molecular mechanism behind deregulated cytokine secretion provides new clues for intervention.
Most hereditary periodic fever syndromes are mediated by deregulated IL-1β secretion. The generation of mature IL-1β requires two signals: one that induces synthesis of inflammasome components and substrates and a second that activates inflammasomes. The mechanisms that mediate autoinflammation in mevalonate kinase deficiency, a periodic fever disease characterized by a block in isoprenoid biosynthesis, are poorly understood. In studying the effects of isoprenoid shortage on IL-1 β generation, we identified a new inflammasome activation signal that originates from defects in autophagy. We find that hypersecretion of IL-1β and IL-18 requires reactive oxygen species and is associated with an oxidized redox status of monocytes but not lymphocytes. IL-1β hypersecretion by monocytes involves decreased mitochondrial stability, release of mitochondrial content into the cytosol and attenuated autophagosomal degradation. Defective autophagy, as established by ATG7 knockdown, results in prolonged cytosolic retention of damaged mitochondria and increased IL-1β secretion. Finally, activation of autophagy in healthy but not mevalonate kinase deficiency patient cells reduces IL-1β secretion. Together, these results indicate that defective autophagy can prime monocytes for mitochondria-mediated NLRP3 inflammasome activation, thereby contributing to hypersecretion of IL-1β in mevalonate kinase deficiency.
PMCID: PMC3931060  PMID: 24356959
Autophagy; Interleukin; Mitochondrial DNA; Monocytes; Redox Regulation; Autoinflammatory Disorder; Periodic Fever

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