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1.  Inhibition Studies on Enzymes Involved in Isoprenoid Biosynthesis: Focus on Two Potential Drug Targets: DXR and IDI-2 Enzymes 
Current enzyme inhibition  2011;7(2):10.2174/157340811796575317.
Isoprenoid compounds constitute an immensely diverse group of acyclic, monocyclic and polycyclic compounds that play important roles in all living organisms. Despite the diversity of their structures, this plethora of natural products arises from only two 5-carbon precursors, isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). This review will discuss the enzymes in the mevalonate (MVA) and methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) biosynthetic pathways leading to IPP and DMAPP with a particular focus on MEP synthase (DXR) and IPP isomerase (IDI), which are potential targets for the development of antibiotic compounds. DXR is the second enzyme in the MEP pathway and the only one for which inhibitors with antimicrobial activity at pharmaceutically relevant concentrations are known. All of the published DXR inhibitors are fosmidomycin analogues, except for a few bisphosphonates with moderate inhibitory activity. These far, there are no other candidates that target DXR. IDI was first identified and characterised over 40 years ago (IDI-1) and a second convergently evolved isoform (IDI-2) was discovered in 2001. IDI-1 is a metalloprotein found in Eukarya and many species of Bacteria. Its mechanism has been extensively studied. In contrast, IDI-2 requires reduced flavin mononucleotide as a cofactor. The mechanism of action for IDI-2 is less well defined. This review will describe how lead inhibitors are being improved by structure-based drug design and enzymatic assays against DXR to lead to new drug families and how mechanistic probes are being used to address questions about the mechanisms of the isomerases.
doi:10.2174/157340811796575317
PMCID: PMC3856697  PMID: 24339799
DXR; IDI; isomerase; isopentenyl; isoprenoid; MEP; mevalonate; MVA; reductoisomerase
2.  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
3.  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
4.  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
5.  Metabolite Profiling Identified Methylerythritol Cyclodiphosphate Efflux as a Limiting Step in Microbial Isoprenoid Production 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e47513.
Isoprenoids are natural products that are all derived from isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). These precursors are synthesized either by the mevalonate (MVA) pathway or the 1-Deoxy-D-Xylulose 5-Phosphate (DXP) pathway. Metabolic engineering of microbes has enabled overproduction of various isoprenoid products from the DXP pathway including lycopene, artemisinic acid, taxadiene and levopimaradiene. To date, there is no method to accurately measure all the DXP metabolic intermediates simultaneously so as to enable the identification of potential flux limiting steps. In this study, a solid phase extraction coupled with ultra performance liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (SPE UPLC-MS) method was developed. This method was used to measure the DXP intermediates in genetically engineered E. coli. Unexpectedly, methylerythritol cyclodiphosphate (MEC) was found to efflux when certain enzymes of the pathway were over-expressed, demonstrating the existence of a novel competing pathway branch in the DXP metabolism. Guided by these findings, ispG was overexpressed and was found to effectively reduce the efflux of MEC inside the cells, resulting in a significant increase in downstream isoprenoid production. This study demonstrated the necessity to quantify metabolites enabling the identification of a hitherto unrecognized pathway and provided useful insights into rational design in metabolic engineering.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047513
PMCID: PMC3487848  PMID: 23133596
6.  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.
doi:10.1128/JB.00925-07
PMCID: PMC2168624  PMID: 17921290
7.  A modular approach for facile biosynthesis of labdane-related diterpenes 
Labdane-related diterpenoids are a large group of over 5,000 natural products whose biosynthesis typically proceeds through a labdadienyl/copalyl diphosphate (CPP) intermediate to a further cyclized and/or rearranged hydrocarbon diterpene en route to more elaborated compounds. Here we report a modular approach for facile biosynthesis of labdane-related diterpenes wherein base pGGxC vectors capable of introducing bacterial production of any one of the three common stereoisomers of CPP can be co-introduced with diterpene synthases that convert these CPP intermediates to specific diterpene hydrocarbon skeletal structures. The utility of this approach is demonstrated by individually engineering E. coli to produce any one of eight different diterpene skeletal structures, which collectively serve as precursors to literally thousands of distinct natural products.
doi:10.1021/ja071158n
PMCID: PMC2518946  PMID: 17480080
8.  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
9.  Isopentenyl Diphosphate Isomerase. Mechanism-Based Inhibition by Diene Analogues of Isopentenyl Diphosphate and Dimethylallyl Diphosphate 
Journal of the American Chemical Society  2005;127(49):17433-17438.
Isopentenyl diphosphate isomerase (IDI) catalyzes the interconversion of isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). This is an essential step in the mevalonate entry into the isoprenoid biosynthetic pathway. The isomerization catalyzed by type I IDI involves protonation of the carbon-carbon double bond in IPP or DMAPP to form a tertiary carbocation, followed by deprotonation. Diene analogs for DMAPP (E-2-OPP and Z-2-OPP) and IPP (4-OPP) were synthesized and found to be potent active-site directed irreversible inhibitors of the enzyme. X-ray analysis of the E·I complex between E. coli IDI and 4-OPP reveals the presence of two isomers that differ in the stereochemistry of the newly formed C3-C4 double bond in the hydrocarbon chain of the inhibitor. In both adducts C5 of the inhibitor is joined to the sulfur of C67. In these structures the methyl group formed upon protonation of the diene moiety in 4-OPP is located near E116, implicating that residue in the protonation step.
doi:10.1021/ja056187h
PMCID: PMC2528281  PMID: 16332094
10.  GcpE Is Involved in the 2-C-Methyl-d-Erythritol 4-Phosphate Pathway of Isoprenoid Biosynthesis in Escherichia coli 
Journal of Bacteriology  2001;183(8):2411-2416.
In a variety of organisms, including plants and several eubacteria, isoprenoids are synthesized by the mevalonate-independent 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway. Although different enzymes of this pathway have been described, the terminal biosynthetic steps of the MEP pathway have not been fully elucidated. In this work, we demonstrate that the gcpE gene of Escherichia coli is involved in this pathway. E. coli cells were genetically engineered to utilize exogenously provided mevalonate for isoprenoid biosynthesis by the mevalonate pathway. These cells were then deleted for the essential gcpE gene and were viable only if the medium was supplemented with mevalonate or the cells were complemented with an episomal copy of gcpE.
doi:10.1128/JB.183.8.2411-2416.2001
PMCID: PMC95155  PMID: 11274098
11.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052498
PMCID: PMC3532213  PMID: 23285068
12.  In silico profiling of Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae as terpenoid factories 
Background
Heterologous microbial production of rare plant terpenoids of medicinal or industrial interest is attracting more and more attention but terpenoid yields are still low. Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae are the most widely used heterologous hosts; a direct comparison of both hosts based on experimental data is difficult though. Hence, the terpenoid pathways of E. coli (via 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate, DXP) and S. cerevisiae (via mevalonate, MVA), the impact of the respective hosts metabolism as well as the impact of different carbon sources were compared in silico by means of elementary mode analysis. The focus was set on the yield of isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP), the general terpenoid precursor, to identify new metabolic engineering strategies for an enhanced terpenoid yield.
Results
Starting from the respective precursor metabolites of the terpenoid pathways (pyruvate and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate for the DXP pathway and acetyl-CoA for the MVA pathway) and considering only carbon stoichiometry, the two terpenoid pathways are identical with respect to carbon yield. However, with glucose as substrate, the MVA pathway has a lower potential to supply terpenoids in high yields than the DXP pathway if the formation of the required precursors is taken into account, due to the carbon loss in the formation of acetyl-CoA. This maximum yield is further reduced in both hosts when the required energy and reduction equivalents are considered. Moreover, the choice of carbon source (glucose, xylose, ethanol or glycerol) has an effect on terpenoid yield with non-fermentable carbon sources being more promising. Both hosts have deficiencies in energy and redox equivalents for high yield terpenoid production leading to new overexpression strategies (heterologous enzymes/pathways) for an enhanced terpenoid yield. Finally, several knockout strategies are identified using constrained minimal cut sets enforcing a coupling of growth to a terpenoid yield which is higher than any yield published in scientific literature so far.
Conclusions
This study provides for the first time a comprehensive and detailed in silico comparison of the most prominent heterologous hosts E. coli and S. cerevisiae as terpenoid factories giving an overview on several promising metabolic engineering strategies paving the way for an enhanced terpenoid yield.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-12-84
PMCID: PMC3852115  PMID: 24059635
Terpenoids; Isoprenoids; In silico; Elementary mode analysis; Constrained minimal cut sets; Metabolic engineering; Escherichia coli; Saccharomyces cerevisiae
13.  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
14.  Different Roles of the Mevalonate and Methylerythritol Phosphate Pathways in Cell Growth and Tanshinone Production of Salvia miltiorrhiza Hairy Roots 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e46797.
Salvia miltiorrhiza has been widely used in the treatment of coronary heart disease. Tanshinones, a group of diterpenoids are the main active ingredients in S. miltiorrhiza. Two biosynthetic pathways were involved in tanshinone biosynthesis in plants: the mevalonate (MVA) pathway in the cytosol and the methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway in the plastids. The 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase (HMGR) is the rate-limiting enzyme of the MVA pathway. The 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate synthase (DXS) and 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate reductoisomerase (DXR) are the key enzymes of the MEP pathway. In this study, to reveal roles of the MVA and the MEP pathways in cell growth and tanshinone production of S. miltiorrhiza hairy roots, specific inhibitors of the two pathways were used to perturb metabolic flux. The results showed that the MVA pathway inhibitor (mevinolin, MEV) was more powerful to inhibit the hairy root growth than the MEP pathway inhibitor (fosmidomycin, FOS). Both MEV and FOS could significantly inhibit tanshinone production, and FOS was more powerful than MEV. An inhibitor (D, L-glyceraldehyde, DLG) of IPP translocation strengthened the inhibitory effects of MEV and FOS on cell growth and tanshinone production. Application of MEV resulted in a significant increase of expression and activity of HMGR at 6 h, and a sharp decrease at 24 h. FOS treatment resulted in a significant increase of DXR and DXS expression and DXS activity at 6 h, and a sharp decrease at 24 h. Our results suggested that the MVA pathway played a major role in cell growth, while the MEP pathway was the main source of tanshinone biosynthesis. Both cell growth and tanshinone production could partially depend on the crosstalk between the two pathways. The inhibitor-mediated changes of tanshinone production were reflected in transcript and protein levels of genes of the MVA and MEP pathways.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0046797
PMCID: PMC3510226  PMID: 23209548
15.  Isoprenoid Pathway Optimization for Taxol Precursor Overproduction in Escherichia coli 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2010;330(6000):70-74.
Taxol (paclitaxel) is a potent anticancer drug first isolated from the Taxus brevifolia Pacific yew tree. Currently, cost-efficient production of Taxol and its analogs remains limited. Here, we report a multivariate-modular approach to metabolic-pathway engineering that succeeded in increasing titers of taxadiene—the first committed Taxol intermediate—approximately 1 gram per liter (~15,000-fold) in an engineered Escherichia coli strain. Our approach partitioned the taxadiene metabolic pathway into two modules: a native upstream methylerythritol-phosphate (MEP) pathway forming isopentenyl pyrophosphate and a heterologous downstream terpenoid–forming pathway. Systematic multivariate search identified conditions that optimally balance the two pathway modules so as to maximize the taxadiene production with minimal accumulation of indole, which is an inhibitory compound found here. We also engineered the next step in Taxol biosynthesis, a P450-mediated 5α-oxidation of taxadiene to taxadien-5α-ol. More broadly, the modular pathway engineering approach helped to unlock the potential of the MEP pathway for the engineered production of terpenoid natural products.
doi:10.1126/science.1191652
PMCID: PMC3034138  PMID: 20929806
16.  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
17.  Subcellular evidence for the involvement of peroxisomes in plant isoprenoid biosynthesis 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2011;6(12):2044-2046.
The role of peroxisomes in isoprenoid metabolism, especially in plants, has been questioned in several reports. A recent study of Sapir-Mir et al.1 revealed that the two isoforms of isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) isomerase, catalyzing the isomerisation of IPP to dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP) are found in the peroxisome. In this addendum, we provide additional data describing the peroxisomal localization of 5-phosphomevalonate kinase and mevalonate 5-diphosphate decarboxylase, the last two enzymes of the mevalonic acid pathway leading to IPP.2 This finding was reinforced in our latest report showing that a short isoform of farnesyl diphosphate, using IPP and DMAPP as substrates, is also targeted to the organelle.3 Therefore, the classical sequestration of isoprenoid biosynthesis between plastids and cytosol/ER can be revisited by including the peroxisome as an additional isoprenoid biosynthetic compartment within plant cells.
doi:10.4161/psb.6.12.18173
PMCID: PMC3337203  PMID: 22080790
5-phosphomevalonate kinase; Arabidopsis thaliana; Catharanthus roseus; farnesyl diphosphate synthase; isoprenoid; mevalonate 5-diphosphate decarboxylase; mevalonic acid pathway; peroxisome
18.  Retinoid production using metabolically engineered Escherichia coli with a two-phase culture system 
Background
Retinoids are lipophilic isoprenoids composed of a cyclic group and a linear chain with a hydrophilic end group. These compounds include retinol, retinal, retinoic acid, retinyl esters, and various derivatives of these structures. Retinoids are used as cosmetic agents and effective pharmaceuticals for skin diseases. Retinal, an immediate precursor of retinoids, is derived by β-carotene 15,15'-mono(di)oxygenase (BCM(D)O) from β-carotene, which is synthesized from the isoprenoid building blocks isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). Retinoids are chemically unstable and biologically degraded via retinoic acid. Although extensive studies have been performed on the microbial production of carotenoids, retinoid production using microbial metabolic engineering has not been reported. Here, we report retinoid production using engineered Escherichia coli that express exogenous BCM(D)O and the mevalonate (MVA) pathway for the building blocks synthesis in combination with a two-phase culture system using a dodecane overlay.
Results
Among the BCM(D)O tested in E. coli, the synthetic retinoid synthesis protein (SR), based on bacteriorhodopsin-related protein-like homolog (Blh) of the uncultured marine bacteria 66A03, showed the highest β-carotene cleavage activity with no residual intracellular β-carotene. By introducing the exogenous MVA pathway, 8.7 mg/L of retinal was produced, which is 4-fold higher production than that of augmenting the MEP pathway (dxs overexpression). There was a large gap between retinal production and β-carotene consumption using the exogenous MVA pathway; therefore, the retinal derivatives were analyzed. The derivatives, except for retinoic acid, that formed were identified, and the levels of retinal, retinol, and retinyl acetate were measured. Amounts as high as 95 mg/L retinoids were obtained from engineered E. coli DH5α harboring the synthetic SR gene and the exogenous MVA pathway in addition to dxs overexpression, which were cultured at 29°C for 72 hours with 2YT medium containing 2.0% (w/v) glycerol as the main carbon source. However, a significant level of intracellular degradation of the retinoids was also observed in the culture. To prevent degradation of the intracellular retinoids through in situ extraction from the cells, a two-phase culture system with dodecane was used. The highest level of retinoid production (136 mg/L) was obtained after 72 hours with 5 mL of dodecane overlaid on a 5 mL culture.
Conclusions
In this study, we successfully produced 136 mg/L retinoids, which were composed of 67 mg/L retinal, 54 mg/L retinol, and 15 mg/L retinyl acetate, using a two-phase culture system with dodecane, which produced 68-fold more retinoids than the initial level of production (2.2 mg/L). Our results demonstrate the potential use of E. coli as a promising microbial cell factory for retinoid production.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-10-59
PMCID: PMC3160355  PMID: 21801353
19.  Mutations in Escherichia coli aceE and ribB Genes Allow Survival of Strains Defective in the First Step of the Isoprenoid Biosynthesis Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43775.
A functional 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway is required for isoprenoid biosynthesis and hence survival in Escherichia coli and most other bacteria. In the first two steps of the pathway, MEP is produced from the central metabolic intermediates pyruvate and glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate via 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate (DXP) by the activity of the enzymes DXP synthase (DXS) and DXP reductoisomerase (DXR). Because the MEP pathway is absent from humans, it was proposed as a promising new target to develop new antibiotics. However, the lethal phenotype caused by the deletion of DXS or DXR was found to be suppressed with a relatively high efficiency by unidentified mutations. Here we report that several mutations in the unrelated genes aceE and ribB rescue growth of DXS-defective mutants because the encoded enzymes allowed the production of sufficient DXP in vivo. Together, this work unveils the diversity of mechanisms that can evolve in bacteria to circumvent a blockage of the first step of the MEP pathway.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0043775
PMCID: PMC3424233  PMID: 22928031
20.  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
21.  Triple subcellular targeting of isopentenyl diphosphate isomerases encoded by a single gene 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2012;7(11):1495-1497.
Isopentenyl diphosphate isomerase (IDI) is a key enzyme of the isoprenoid pathway, catalyzing the interconversion of isopentenyl diphosphate and dimethylallyl diphosphate, the universal precursors of all isoprenoids. In plants, several subcellular compartments, including cytosol/ER, peroxisomes, mitochondria and plastids, are involved in isoprenoid biosynthesis. Here, we report on the unique triple targeting of two Catharanthus roseus IDI isoforms encoded by a single gene (CrIDI1). The triple localization of CrIDI1 in mitochondria, plastids and peroxisomes is explained by alternative transcription initiation of CrIDI1, by the specificity of a bifunctional N-terminal mitochondria/plastid transit peptide and by the presence of a C-terminal peroxisomal targeting signal. Moreover, bimolecular fluorescence complementation assays revealed self-interactions suggesting that the IDI likely acts as a multimer in vivo.
doi:10.4161/psb.21892
PMCID: PMC3548878  PMID: 22951398
isopentenyl diphosphate isomerase; isoprenoid; alkaloid; triple targeting; subcellular localization; Catharanthus roseus
22.  Molecular cloning and functional expression of geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate synthase from Coleus forskohlii Briq 
BMC Plant Biology  2004;4:18.
Background
Isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP), a common biosynthetic precursor to the labdane diterpene forskolin, has been biosynthesised via a non-mevalonate pathway. Geranylgeranyl diphosphate (GGPP) synthase is an important branch point enzyme in terpenoid biosynthesis. Therefore, GGPP synthase is thought to be a key enzyme in biosynthesis of forskolin. Herein we report the first confirmation of the GGPP synthase gene in Coleus forskohlii Briq.
Results
The open reading frame for full-length GGPP synthase encodes a protein of 359 amino acids, in which 1,077 nucleotides long with calculated molecular mass of 39.3 kDa. Alignments of C. forskohlii GGPP synthase amino acid sequences revealed high homologies with other plant GGPP synthases. Several highly conserved regions, including two aspartate-rich motifs were identified. Transient expression of the N-terminal region of C. forskohlii GGPP synthase-GFP fusion protein in tobacco cells demonstrated subcellular localization in the chloroplast. Carotenoid production was observed in Escherichia coli harboring pACCAR25ΔcrtE from Erwinia uredovora and plasmid carrying C. forskohlii GGPP synthase. These results suggested that cDNA encoded functional GGPP synthase. Furthermore, C. forskohlii GGPP synthase expression was strong in leaves, decreased in stems and very little expression was observed in roots.
Conclusion
This investigation proposed that forskolin was synthesised via a non-mevalonate pathway. GGPP synthase is thought to be involved in the biosynthesis of forskolin, which is primarily synthesised in the leaves and subsequently accumulates in the stems and roots.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-4-18
PMCID: PMC538753  PMID: 15550168
23.  Escherichia coli Open Reading Frame 696 Is idi, a Nonessential Gene Encoding Isopentenyl Diphosphate Isomerase 
Journal of Bacteriology  1999;181(15):4499-4504.
Isopentenyl diphosphate isomerase catalyzes the interconversion of isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). In eukaryotes, archaebacteria, and some bacteria, IPP is synthesized from acetyl coenzyme A by the mevalonate pathway. The subsequent isomerization of IPP to DMAPP activates the five-carbon isoprene unit for subsequent prenyl transfer reactions. In Escherichia coli, the isoprene unit is synthesized from pyruvate and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate by the recently discovered nonmevalonate pathway. An open reading frame (ORF696) encoding a putative IPP isomerase was identified in the E. coli chromosome at 65.3 min. ORF696 was cloned into an expression vector; the 20.5 kDa recombinant protein was purified in three steps, and its identity as an IPP isomerase was established biochemically. The gene for IPP isomerase, idi, is not clustered with other known genes for enzymes in the isoprenoid pathway. E. coli FH12 was constructed by disruption of the chromosomal idi gene with the aminoglycoside 3′-phosphotransferase gene and complemented by the wild-type idi gene on plasmid pFMH33 with a temperature-sensitive origin of replication. FH12/pFMH33 was able to grow at the restrictive temperature of 44°C and FH12 lacking the plasmid grew on minimal medium, thereby establishing that idi is a nonessential gene. Although the Vmax of the bacterial protein was 20-fold lower than that of its yeast counterpart, the catalytic efficiencies of the two enzymes were similar through a counterbalance in Kms. The E. coli protein requires Mg2+ or Mn2+ for activity. The enzyme contains conserved cysteine and glutamate active-site residues found in other IPP isomerases.
PMCID: PMC103578  PMID: 10419945
24.  Analysis of the Isoprenoid Biosynthesis Pathways in Listeria monocytogenes Reveals a Role for the Alternative 2-C-Methyl-d-Erythritol 4-Phosphate Pathway in Murine Infection▿  
Infection and Immunity  2008;76(11):5392-5401.
Most bacteria synthesize isoprenoids through one of two essential pathways which provide the basic building block, isopentyl diphosphate (IPP): either the classical mevalonate pathway or the alternative non-mevalonate 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway. However, postgenomic analyses of the Listeria monocytogenes genome revealed that this pathogen possesses the genetic capacity to produce the complete set of enzymes involved in both pathways. The nonpathogenic species Listeria innocua naturally lacks the last two genes (gcpE and lytB) of the MEP pathway, and bioinformatic analyses strongly suggest that the genes have been lost through evolution. In the present study we show that heterologous expression of gcpE and lytB in L. innocua can functionally restore the MEP pathway in this organism and confer on it the ability to induce Vγ9Vδ2 T cells. We have previously confirmed that both pathways are functional in L. monocytogenes and can provide sufficient IPP for normal growth in laboratory media (M. Begley, C. G. Gahan, A. K. Kollas, M. Hintz, C. Hill, H. Jomaa, and M. Eberl, FEBS Lett. 561:99-104, 2004). Here we describe a targeted mutagenesis strategy to create a double pathway mutant in L. monocytogenes which cannot grow in the absence of exogenously provided mevalonate, confirming the requirement for at least one intact pathway for growth. In addition, murine studies revealed that mutants lacking the MEP pathway were impaired in virulence relative to the parent strain during intraperitoneal infection, while mutants lacking the classical mevalonate pathway were not impaired in virulence potential. In vivo bioluminescence imaging also confirmed in vivo expression of the gcpE gene (MEP pathway) during murine infection.
doi:10.1128/IAI.01376-07
PMCID: PMC2573353  PMID: 18765739
25.  Overexpressing 3-Hydroxy-3-Methylglutaryl Coenzyme A Reductase (HMGR) in the Lactococcal Mevalonate Pathway for Heterologous Plant Sesquiterpene Production 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52444.
Isoprenoids are a large and diverse group of metabolites with interesting properties such as flavour, fragrance and therapeutic properties. They are produced via two pathways, the mevalonate pathway or the 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol-4-phosphate (MEP) pathway. While plants are the richest source of isoprenoids, they are not the most efficient producers. Escherichia coli and yeasts have been extensively studied as heterologous hosts for plant isoprenoids production. In the current study, we describe the usage of the food grade Lactococcus lactis as a potential heterologous host for the production of sesquiterpenes from a local herbaceous Malaysian plant, Persicaria minor (synonym Polygonum minus). A sesquiterpene synthase gene from P. minor was successfully cloned and expressed in L. lactis. The expressed protein was identified to be a β-sesquiphellandrene synthase as it was demonstrated to be functional in producing β-sesquiphellandrene at 85.4% of the total sesquiterpenes produced based on in vitro enzymatic assays. The recombinant L. lactis strain developed in this study was also capable of producing β-sesquiphellandrene in vivo without exogenous substrates supplementation. In addition, overexpression of the strain’s endogenous 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme-A reductase (HMGR), an established rate-limiting enzyme in the eukaryotic mevalonate pathway, increased the production level of β-sesquiphellandrene by 1.25–1.60 fold. The highest amount achieved was 33 nM at 2 h post-induction.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052444
PMCID: PMC3530464  PMID: 23300671

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