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1.  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
2.  Crystal structures of IspF from Plasmodium falciparum and Burkholderia cenocepacia: comparisons inform antimicrobial drug target assessment 
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3927217  PMID: 24410837
Antimicrobial drug target; Isoprenoid biosynthesis; X-ray crystallography; Zn2+-dependent enzyme
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.
PMCID: PMC3144805  PMID: 21795803
Mycobacterium tuberculosis; IspE; drug discovery
4.  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.
PMCID: PMC2516919  PMID: 16533036
bifunctional; IspDF; IspE; non-channeling
5.  Expression and characterization of soluble 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol kinase from bacterial pathogens 
Chemistry & biology  2009;16(12):1230-1239.
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.
PMCID: PMC4020808  PMID: 20064433
6.  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.
PMCID: PMC3188437  PMID: 21903402
7.  The structure of Mycobacteria 2C-methyl-D-erythritol-2,4-cyclodiphosphate synthase, an essential enzyme, provides a platform for drug discovery 
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.
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.
Our study genetically validates MtIspF as a therapeutic target and provides a model system for structure-based ligand design.
PMCID: PMC2151065  PMID: 17956607
8.  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.
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.
PMCID: PMC2837070  PMID: 20189102
9.  IspE Inhibitors Identified by a Combination of In Silico and In Vitro High-Throughput Screening 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e35792.
CDP-ME kinase (IspE) contributes to the non-mevalonate or deoxy-xylulose phosphate (DOXP) pathway for isoprenoid precursor biosynthesis found in many species of bacteria and apicomplexan parasites. IspE has been shown to be essential by genetic methods and since it is absent from humans it constitutes a promising target for antimicrobial drug development. Using in silico screening directed against the substrate binding site and in vitro high-throughput screening directed against both, the substrate and co-factor binding sites, non-substrate-like IspE inhibitors have been discovered and structure-activity relationships were derived. The best inhibitors in each series have high ligand efficiencies and favourable physico-chemical properties rendering them promising starting points for drug discovery. Putative binding modes of the ligands were suggested which are consistent with established structure-activity relationships. The applied screening methods were complementary in discovering hit compounds, and a comparison of both approaches highlights their strengths and weaknesses. It is noteworthy that compounds identified by virtual screening methods provided the controls for the biochemical screens.
PMCID: PMC3340893  PMID: 22563402
10.  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.
PMCID: PMC2832204  PMID: 19088853
11.  Characterization of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis 4-Diphosphocytidyl-2-C-Methyl-d-Erythritol Synthase: Potential for Drug Development▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;189(24):8922-8927.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis utilizes the methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway for biosynthesis of isopentenyl diphosphate and its isomer, dimethylallyl diphosphate, precursors of all isoprenoid compounds. This pathway is of interest as a source of new drug targets, as it is absent from humans and disruption of the responsible genes has shown a lethal phenotype for Escherichia coli. In the MEP pathway, 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-d-erythritol is formed from 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) and CTP in a reaction catalyzed by a 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-d-erythritol synthase (IspD). In the present work, we demonstrate that Rv3582c is essential for M. tuberculosis: Rv3582c has been cloned and expressed, and the encoded protein has been purified. The purified M. tuberculosis IspD protein was capable of catalyzing the formation of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-d-erythritol in the presence of MEP and CTP. The enzyme was active over a broad pH range (pH 6.0 to 9.0), with peak activity at pH 8.0. The activity was absolutely dependent upon divalent cations, with 20 mM Mg2+ being optimal, and replacement of CTP with other nucleotide 5′-triphosphates did not support activity. Under the conditions tested, M. tuberculosis IspD had Km values of 58.5 μM for MEP and 53.2 μM for CTP. Calculated kcat and kcat/Km values were 0.72 min−1 and 12.3 mM−1 min−1 for MEP and 1.0 min−1 and 18.8 mM−1 min−1 for CTP, respectively.
PMCID: PMC2168624  PMID: 17921290
12.  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.
PMCID: PMC3874807  PMID: 24157367
Fragment screening; MEP pathway; IspF; Non-mevalonate; Anti-infective; SPR
13.  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.
PMCID: PMC1316992  PMID: 16321944
14.  A Structure-Based Approach to Ligand Discovery for 2C-Methyl-d-erythritol-2,4-cyclodiphosphate Synthase: A Target for Antimicrobial Therapy† 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2009;52(8):2531-2542.
The nonmevalonate route to isoprenoid biosynthesis is essential in Gram-negative bacteria and apicomplexan parasites. The enzymes of this pathway are absent from mammals, contributing to their appeal as chemotherapeutic targets. One enzyme, 2C-methyl-d-erythritol-2,4-cyclodiphosphate synthase (IspF), has been validated as a target by genetic approaches in bacteria. Virtual screening against Escherichia coli IspF (EcIspF) was performed by combining a hierarchical filtering methodology with molecular docking. Docked compounds were inspected and 10 selected for experimental validation. A surface plasmon resonance assay was developed and two weak ligands identified. Crystal structures of EcIspF complexes were determined to support rational ligand development. Cytosine analogues and Zn2+-binding moieties were characterized. One of the putative Zn2+-binding compounds gave the lowest measured KD to date (1.92 ± 0.18 μM). These data provide a framework for the development of IspF inhibitors to generate lead compounds of therapeutic potential against microbial pathogens.
PMCID: PMC2669732  PMID: 19320487
15.  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.
PMCID: PMC3426640  PMID: 22646150
(E)-4-Hydroxy-3-methyl-but-2-enyl diphosphate reductase; IspH; EPR; ENDOR; reaction intermediate
16.  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.
PMCID: PMC3477264  PMID: 22839733
cyclodiphosphate synthase; IspF; methylerythritol phosphate; MEP pathway regulation
17.  Reconstruction and Evaluation of the Synthetic Bacterial MEP Pathway in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52498.
Isoprenoids, which are a large group of natural and chemical compounds with a variety of applications as e.g. fragrances, pharmaceuticals and potential biofuels, are produced via two different metabolic pathways, the mevalonate (MVA) pathway and the 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway. Here, we attempted to replace the endogenous MVA pathway in Saccharomyces cerevisiae by a synthetic bacterial MEP pathway integrated into the genome to benefit from its superior properties in terms of energy consumption and productivity at defined growth conditions. It was shown that the growth of a MVA pathway deficient S. cerevisiae strain could not be restored by the heterologous MEP pathway even when accompanied by the co-expression of genes erpA, hISCA1 and CpIscA involved in the Fe-S trafficking routes leading to maturation of IspG and IspH and E. coli genes fldA and fpr encoding flavodoxin and flavodoxin reductase believed to be responsible for electron transfer to IspG and IspH.
PMCID: PMC3532213  PMID: 23285068
18.  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.
PMCID: PMC3462025  PMID: 23049145
MEP; CDP-ME; selective phosphorylation; dioxanone; monophosphate
19.  Identification of IspC, an 86-Kilodalton Protein Target of Humoral Immune Response to Infection with Listeria monocytogenes Serotype 4b, as a Novel Surface Autolysin▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;189(5):2046-2054.
We identified and biochemically characterized a novel surface-localized autolysin from Listeria monocytogenes serotype 4b, an 86-kDa protein consisting of 774 amino acids and known from our previous studies as the target (designated IspC) of the humoral immune response to listerial infection. Recombinant IspC, expressed in Escherichia coli, was purified and used to raise specific rabbit polyclonal antibodies for protein characterization. The native IspC was detected in all growth phases at a relatively stable low level during a 22-h in vitro culture, although its gene was transiently transcribed only in the early exponential growth phase. This and our previous findings suggest that IspC is upregulated in vivo during infection. The protein was unevenly distributed in clusters on the cell surface, as shown by immunofluorescence and immunogold electron microscopy. The recombinant IspC was capable of hydrolyzing not only the cell walls of the gram-positive bacterium Micrococcus lysodeikticus and the gram-negative bacterium E. coli but also that of the IspC-producing strain of L. monocytogenes serotype 4b, indicating that it was an autolysin. The IspC autolysin exhibited peptidoglycan hydrolase activity over a broad pH range of between 3 and 9, with a pH optimum of 7.5 to 9. Analysis of various truncated forms of IspC for cell wall-hydrolyzing or -binding activity has defined two separate functional domains: the N-terminal catalytic domain (amino acids [aa] 1 to 197) responsible for the hydrolytic activity and the C-terminal domain (aa 198 to 774) made up of seven GW modules responsible for anchoring the protein to the cell wall. In contrast to the full-length IspC, the N-terminal catalytic domain showed hydrolytic activity at acidic pHs, with a pH optimum of between 4 and 6 and negligible activity at alkaline pHs. This suggests that the cell wall binding domain may be of importance in modulating the activity of the N-terminal hydrolase domain. Elucidation of the biochemical properties of IspC may have provided new insights into its biological function(s) and its role in pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC1855743  PMID: 17172332
20.  A Novel Family of Toxoplasma IMC Proteins Displays a Hierarchical Organization and Functions in Coordinating Parasite Division 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(9):e1001094.
Apicomplexans employ a peripheral membrane system called the inner membrane complex (IMC) for critical processes such as host cell invasion and daughter cell formation. We have identified a family of proteins that define novel sub-compartments of the Toxoplasma gondii IMC. These IMC Sub-compartment Proteins, ISP1, 2 and 3, are conserved throughout the Apicomplexa, but do not appear to be present outside the phylum. ISP1 localizes to the apical cap portion of the IMC, while ISP2 localizes to a central IMC region and ISP3 localizes to a central plus basal region of the complex. Targeting of all three ISPs is dependent upon N-terminal residues predicted for coordinated myristoylation and palmitoylation. Surprisingly, we show that disruption of ISP1 results in a dramatic relocalization of ISP2 and ISP3 to the apical cap. Although the N-terminal region of ISP1 is necessary and sufficient for apical cap targeting, exclusion of other family members requires the remaining C-terminal region of the protein. This gate-keeping function of ISP1 reveals an unprecedented mechanism of interactive and hierarchical targeting of proteins to establish these unique sub-compartments in the Toxoplasma IMC. Finally, we show that loss of ISP2 results in severe defects in daughter cell formation during endodyogeny, indicating a role for the ISP proteins in coordinating this unique process of Toxoplasma replication.
Author Summary
Apicomplexans are the cause of important diseases in humans and animals including malaria (Plasmodium falciparum), which claims over a million human lives each year, and toxoplasmosis (Toxoplasma gondii), which causes birth defects and neurological disorders. These parasites possess a unique cortical system of membrane sacs arranged on a cytoskeletal meshwork, together referred to as the inner membrane complex (IMC). The IMC is the anchor point for the gliding motility machinery necessary for host invasion and also a scaffold around which new parasites are constructed during replication. Here we have uncovered new insights into the organization and function of this structure by identifying and characterizing ISP1-3, a family of proteins that define novel sub-compartments within the Toxoplasma IMC. Residues predicted for myristoylation and palmitoylation are critical in the membrane targeting of these proteins, suggesting that multiple palmitoyl acyltransferase activities reside within the IMC and dictate its organization. Surprisingly, ISP1 is required for proper sub-compartment sorting of ISP2 and 3, revealing a novel hierarchical targeting mechanism for the organization of this membrane system. Disruption of ISP2 results in defects during endodyogeny and a dramatic loss in parasite fitness, revealing that the ISP proteins play an important role in coordinating parasite replication.
PMCID: PMC2936552  PMID: 20844581
21.  Utilizing a Dynamical Description of IspH to Aid in the Development of Novel Antimicrobial Drugs 
PLoS Computational Biology  2013;9(12):e1003395.
The nonmevalonate pathway is responsible for isoprenoid production in microbes, including H. pylori, M. tuberculosis and P. falciparum, but is nonexistent in humans, thus providing a desirable route for antibacterial and antimalarial drug discovery. We coordinate a structural study of IspH, a [4Fe-4S] protein responsible for converting HMBPP to IPP and DMAPP in the ultimate step in the nonmevalonate pathway. By performing accelerated molecular dynamics simulations on both substrate-free and HMBPP-bound [Fe4S4]2+ IspH, we elucidate how substrate binding alters the dynamics of the protein. Using principal component analysis, we note that while substrate-free IspH samples various open and closed conformations, the closed conformation observed experimentally for HMBPP-bound IspH is inaccessible in the absence of HMBPP. In contrast, simulations with HMBPP bound are restricted from accessing the open states sampled by the substrate-free simulations. Further investigation of the substrate-free simulations reveals large fluctuations in the HMBPP binding pocket, as well as allosteric pocket openings – both of which are achieved through the hinge motions of the individual domains in IspH. Coupling these findings with solvent mapping and various structural analyses reveals alternative druggable sites that may be exploited in future drug design efforts.
Author Summary
Drug resistance has recently entered into media conversations through the lens of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) infections, but conventional therapies are also failing to address resistance in cases of malaria and other bacterial infections, such as tuberculosis. To address these problems, we must develop new antibacterial and antimalarial medications. Our research focuses on understanding the structure and dynamics of IspH, an enzyme whose function is necessary for the survival of most bacteria and malaria-causing protozoans. Using computer simulations, we track how the structure of IspH changes in the presence and absence of its natural substrate. By inspecting the pockets that form in the normal motions of IspH, we propose a couple new routes by which new molecules may be developed to disrupt the function of IspH. It is our hope that these structural studies may be precursors to the development of novel therapies that may add to our current arsenal against bacterial and malarial infections.
PMCID: PMC3868525  PMID: 24367248
22.  Implantation Serine Proteinases heterodimerize and are critical in hatching and implantation 
We have recently reported the expression of murine Implantation Serine Proteinase genes in pre-implantation embryos (ISP1) and uterus (ISP1 and ISP2). These proteinases belong to the S1 proteinase family and are similar to mast cell tryptases, which function as multimers.
Here, we report the purification and initial characterization of ISP1 and 2 with respect to their physico-chemical properties and physiological function. In addition to being co-expressed in uterus, we show that ISP1 and ISP2 are also co-expressed in the pre-implantation embryo. Together, they form a heterodimer with an approximate molecular weight of 63 kD. This complex is the active form of the enzyme, which we have further characterized as being trypsin-like, based on substrate and inhibitor specificities. In addition to having a role in embryo hatching and outgrowth, we demonstrate that ISP enzyme is localized to the site of embryo invasion during implantation and that its activity is important for successful implantation in vivo.
On the basis of similarities in structural, chemical, and functional properties, we suggest that this ISP enzyme complex represents the classical hatching enzyme, strypsin. Our results demonstrate a critical role for ISP in embryo hatching and implantation.
PMCID: PMC1713233  PMID: 17156484
23.  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.
PMCID: PMC3161243  PMID: 19668858
24.  Cardioprotective response to chronic administration of vitamin E in isoproterenol induced myocardial necrosis: Hemodynamic, biochemical and ultrastructural studies 
The present study evaluated the cardioprotective potential of vitamin-E by studying its effect on hemodynamic parameters, lipid peroxidation, myocyte injury marker and ultrastructural changes in model of isoproterenol-induced myocardial necrosis in rats. Wistar albino male rats (150–200 g) were randomly divided into saline, ISP control, and vit E groups. Vitamin E group was administered vitamin E at a dose of 100mg/kg/day while saline and ISP control groups received saline orally for one month. On 29th and 30th day, ISP (85 mg/kg, sc) was administered at an interval of 24 h to vit E and ISP control rats. On 31st day, rats of all groups were anesthetized and hemodynamic parameters were recorded. At the end of experimentation, animals were sacrificed; hearts were excised and processed for biochemical and ultrastructural studies. ISP administration produced marked cardiac necrosis as evidenced by significant decrease in my ocardial creatine kinase-MB as well as increase in malonaldialdehyde levels. ISP-induced myocardial necrosis resulted in myocardial dysfunction as evidenced by significant depression in heart rate and mean arterial pressure in the ISP control group as compared to saline control. Salient ultrastructural changes including extensive loss of myofibrils, muscle necrosis, loss of mitochondria, and formation of several intracytoplasmic vacuoles and lipid droplets further confirmed the ISP-induced myocardial damage. However, subsequent to ISP challenge, vit E treatment significantly preserved the myocardium by restoring myocardial CK-MB activity, inhibiting the ISP-induced lipid peroxidation and ultrastructural changes. Additionally, pre-and co-treatment of vit E prevented the deleterious ultrastructural changes caused by ISP. These beneficial effects of chronic vit E treatment also translated into significant restoration of the altered hemodynamic parameters. The present study clearly demonstrated the cardioprotective potential of vit E at dose of 100 mg/kg in ISP-induced model of myocardial necrosis in rats. The significant restoration of altered hemodynamic parameters, myocardial CK-MB activity, prevention of ISP-induced rise in lipid peroxidation and ultrastructural changes may confirm its cardioprotective effect.
PMCID: PMC3454252  PMID: 23105647
Vitamin E; Isoproterenol; Myocardial necrosis; Rats
25.  Inhibition of IspH, a [4Fe-4S]2+ enzyme involved in the biosynthesis of isoprenoids via the MEP pathway 
The MEP pathway, which is absent in animals but present in most pathogenic bacteria, in the parasite responsible for malaria and in plant plastids, is a target for the development of antimicrobial drugs. IspH, an oxygen-sensitive [4Fe-4S] enzyme, catalyzes the last step of this pathway and converts (E)-4-hydroxy-2-methylbut-2-enyl 1-diphosphate (HMBPP) into the two isoprenoid precursors: isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). A crucial step in the mechanism of this enzyme is the binding of the C4 hydroxyl of HMBPP to the unique fourth iron site in the [4Fe-4S]2+ moiety. Here we report the synthesis and the kinetic investigations of two new extremely potent inhibitors of E. coli IspH where the OH group of HMBPP is replaced by an amino and a thiol group. (E)-4-Mercapto-3-methyl-but-2-en-1-yl diphosphate is a reversible tight-binding inhibitor of IspH with Ki = 20 ± 2 nM. A detailed kinetic analysis revealed that (E)-4-amino-3-methylbut-2-en-1-yl diphosphate is a reversible slow-binding inhibitor of IspH with Ki = 54 ± 19 nM. The slow binding behavior of this inhibitor is best described by a one-step mechanism with the slow step consisting in the formation of the enzyme-inhibitor (EI) complex.
PMCID: PMC3644560  PMID: 23316732

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