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1.  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
2.  Crystal structures of IspF from Plasmodium falciparum and Burkholderia cenocepacia: comparisons inform antimicrobial drug target assessment 
Background
2C-methyl-D-erythritol-2,4-cyclodiphosphate synthase (IspF) catalyzes the conversion of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2C-methyl-D-erythritol-2-phosphate to 2C-methyl-D-erythritol-2,4-cyclodiphosphate and cytidine monophosphate in production of isoprenoid-precursors via the methylerythritol phosphate biosynthetic pathway. IspF is found in the protozoan Plasmodium falciparum, a parasite that causes cerebral malaria, as well as in many Gram-negative bacteria such as Burkholderia cenocepacia. IspF represents a potential target for development of broad-spectrum antimicrobial drugs since it is proven or inferred as essential in these pathogens and absent from mammals. Structural studies of IspF from these two important yet distinct pathogens, and comparisons with orthologues have been carried out to generate reagents, to support and inform a structure-based approach to early stage drug discovery.
Results
Efficient recombinant protein production and crystallization protocols were developed, and high-resolution crystal structures of IspF from P. falciparum (Emphasis/Emphasis>IspF) and B. cenocepacia (BcIspF) in complex with cytidine nucleotides determined. Comparisons with orthologues, indicate a high degree of order and conservation in parts of the active site where Zn2+ is bound and where recognition of the cytidine moiety of substrate occurs. However, conformational flexibility is noted in that area of the active site responsible for binding the methylerythritol component of substrate. Unexpectedly, one structure of BcIspF revealed two molecules of cytidine monophosphate in the active site, and another identified citrate coordinating to the catalytic Zn2+. In both cases interactions with ligands appear to help order a flexible loop at one side of the active site. Difficulties were encountered when attempting to derive complex structures with other ligands.
Conclusions
High-resolution crystal structures of IspF from two important human pathogens have been obtained and compared to orthologues. The studies reveal new data on ligand binding, with citrate coordinating to the active site Zn2+ and when present in high concentrations cytidine monophosphate displays two binding modes in the active site. Ligand binding appears to order a part of the active site involved in substrate recognition. The high degree of structural conservation in and around the IspF active site suggests that any structural model might be suitable to support a program of structure-based drug discovery.
doi:10.1186/1472-6807-14-1
PMCID: PMC3927217  PMID: 24410837
Antimicrobial drug target; Isoprenoid biosynthesis; X-ray crystallography; Zn2+-dependent enzyme
3.  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
4.  Crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of 4-­diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-d-erythritol kinase (IspE) from Mycobacterium tuberculosis  
The 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-d-erythritol kinase (IspE) from M. tuberculosis H37Rv was overexpressed in E. coli, purified and crystallized. Diffraction data for the native enzyme were collected to 2.1 Å resolution.
The 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-d-erythritol kinase (IspE) from Mycobacterium tuberculosis, an enzyme from the 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway, is crucial and essential for the survival of this pathogenic bacterium. IspE catalyzes the conversion of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-d-­erythritol (CDP-ME) to 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-d-erythritol 2-phosphate (CDP-ME2P) in an ATP-dependent manner. Solving the crystal structure of M. tuberculosis IspE will shed light on its structural details and mechanism of action and may provide the basis for the future design of drugs for the treatment of multidrug-resistant and extremely drug-resistant M. tuberculosis strains. Recombinant M. tuberculosis IspE was crystallized at 291 K using NaCl or Li2SO4 as a precipitant. A 2.1 Å resolution native data set was collected from a single flash-­cooled crystal (100 K) belonging to space group P212121, with unit-cell parameters a = 52.5, b = 72.3, c = 107.3 Å. One molecule was assumed per asymmetric unit, which gives a Matthews coefficient of 3.4 Å3 Da−1 with 63% solvent content.
doi:10.1107/S1744309111019567
PMCID: PMC3144805  PMID: 21795803
Mycobacterium tuberculosis; IspE; drug discovery
5.  The structure of Mycobacteria 2C-methyl-D-erythritol-2,4-cyclodiphosphate synthase, an essential enzyme, provides a platform for drug discovery 
Background
The prevalence of tuberculosis, the prolonged and expensive treatment that this disease requires and an increase in drug resistance indicate an urgent need for new treatments. The 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate pathway of isoprenoid precursor biosynthesis is an attractive chemotherapeutic target because it occurs in many pathogens, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and is absent from humans. To underpin future drug development it is important to assess which enzymes in this biosynthetic pathway are essential in the actual pathogens and to characterize them.
Results
The fifth enzyme of this pathway, encoded by ispF, is 2C-methyl-D-erythritol-2,4-cyclodiphosphate synthase (IspF). A two-step recombination strategy was used to construct ispF deletion mutants in M. tuberculosis but only wild-type double crossover strains were isolated. The chromosomal copy could be deleted when a second functional copy was provided on an integrating plasmid, demonstrating that ispF is an essential gene under the conditions tested thereby confirming its potential as a drug target. We attempted structure determination of the M. tuberculosis enzyme (MtIspF), but failed to obtain crystals. We instead analyzed the orthologue M. smegmatis IspF (MsIspF), sharing 73% amino acid sequence identity, at 2.2 Å resolution. The high level of sequence conservation is particularly pronounced in and around the active site. MsIspF is a trimer with a hydrophobic cavity at its center that contains density consistent with diphosphate-containing isoprenoids. The active site, created by two subunits, comprises a rigid CDP-Zn2+ binding pocket with a flexible loop to position the 2C-methyl-D-erythritol moiety of substrate. Sequence-structure comparisons indicate that the active site and interactions with ligands are highly conserved.
Conclusion
Our study genetically validates MtIspF as a therapeutic target and provides a model system for structure-based ligand design.
doi:10.1186/1472-6807-7-68
PMCID: PMC2151065  PMID: 17956607
6.  Chemoenzymatic synthesis of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol: A substrate for IspE 
Tetrahedron letters  2008;49(29-30):4461-4463.
Enantiomerically pure 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate 1 (MEP) is synthesized from 1,2-O-isopropylidene-α-D-xylofuranose via facile benzylation in good yield. Subsequently, 1 is used for enzymatic synthesis of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 2 (CDP-ME) using 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol synthase (IspD). The chemoenzymatically synthesized 2 can be used as substrate for assay of IspE and for high throughput screening to identify IspE inhibitors.
doi:10.1016/j.tetlet.2008.05.074
PMCID: PMC2832204  PMID: 19088853
7.  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
8.  Characterization of Aquifex aeolicus 4-diphosphocytidyl-2C-methyl-d-erythritol kinase – ligand recognition in a template for antimicrobial drug discovery 
The Febs Journal  2008;275(11):2779-2794.
4-Diphosphocytidyl-2C-methyl-d-erythritol kinase (IspE) catalyses the ATP-dependent conversion of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2C-methyl-d-erythritol (CDPME) to 4-diphosphocytidyl-2C-methyl-d-erythritol 2-phosphate with the release of ADP. This reaction occurs in the non-mevalonate pathway of isoprenoid precursor biosynthesis and because it is essential in important microbial pathogens and absent from mammals it represents a potential target for anti-infective drugs. We set out to characterize the biochemical properties, determinants of molecular recognition and reactivity of IspE and report the cloning and purification of recombinant Aquifex aeolicus IspE (AaIspE), kinetic data, metal ion, temperature and pH dependence, crystallization and structure determination of the enzyme in complex with CDP, CDPME and ADP. In addition, 4-fluoro-3,5-dihydroxy-4-methylpent-1-enylphosphonic acid (compound 1) was designed to mimic a fragment of the substrate, a synthetic route to 1 was elucidated and the complex structure determined. Surprisingly, this ligand occupies the binding site for the ATP α-phosphate not the binding site for the methyl-d-erythritol moiety of CDPME. Gel filtration and analytical ultracentrifugation indicate that AaIspE is a monomer in solution. The enzyme displays the characteristic α/β galacto-homoserine-mevalonate-phosphomevalonate kinase fold, with the catalytic centre positioned in a deep cleft between the ATP- and CDPME-binding domains. Comparisons indicate a high degree of sequence conservation on the IspE active site across bacterial species, similarities in structure, specificity of substrate recognition and mechanism. The biochemical characterization, attainment of well-ordered and reproducible crystals and the models resulting from the analyses provide reagents and templates to support the structure-based design of broad-spectrum antimicrobial agents.
doi:10.1111/j.1742-4658.2008.06418.x
PMCID: PMC2655357  PMID: 18422643
enzyme–ligand complex; GHMP kinase; isoprenoid biosynthesis; molecular recognition; non-mevalonate pathway
9.  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.
doi:10.1021/jm801475n
PMCID: PMC2669732  PMID: 19320487
10.  Characterization of the Depletion of 2-C-Methyl-d-Erythritol-2,4-Cyclodiphosphate Synthase in Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis 
Journal of Bacteriology  2002;184(20):5609-5618.
The ispF gene product in Escherichia coli has been shown to catalyze the formation of 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol 2,4-cyclodiphosphate (MEC) in the deoxyxylulose (DOXP) pathway for isoprenoid biosynthesis. In this work, the E. coli gene ispF and its Bacillus subtilis orthologue, yacN, were deleted and conditionally complemented by expression of these genes from distant loci in the respective organisms. In E. coli, complementation was achieved through integration of ispF at the araBAD locus with control from the arabinose-inducible araBAD promoter, while in B. subtilis, yacN was placed at amyE under control of the xylose-inducible xylA promoter. In both cases, growth was severely retarded in the absence of inducer, consistent with these genes being essential for survival. E. coli cells depleted of MEC synthase revealed a filamentous phenotype. This was in contrast to the depletion of MEC synthase in B. subtilis, which resulted in a loss of rod shape, irregular septation, multicompartmentalized cells, and thickened cell walls. To probe the nature of the predominant deficiency of MEC synthase-depleted cells, we investigated the sensitivity of these conditionally complemented mutants, grown with various concentrations of inducer, to a wide variety antibiotics. Synthetic lethal behavior in MEC synthase-depleted cells was prevalent for cell wall-active antibiotics.
doi:10.1128/JB.184.20.5609-5618.2002
PMCID: PMC139617  PMID: 12270818
11.  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
12.  Identification of Novel Small Molecule Inhibitors of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol (CDP-ME) kinase of Gram-negative bacteria 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry  2011;19(19):5886-5895.
The biosyntheses of isoprenoids is essential for the survival in all living organisms, and requires one of the two biochemical pathways: (a) Mevalonate (MVA) Pathway or (b) Methylerythritol Phosphate (MEP) Pathway. The latter pathway, which is used by all Gram-negative bacteria, some Gram-positive bacteria and a few apicomplexan protozoa, provides an attractive target for the development of new antimicrobials because of its absence in humans. In this report, we describe two different approaches that we used to identify novel small molecule inhibitors of Escherichia coli and Yersinia pestis 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl D-erythritol (CDP-ME) kinases, key enzymes of the MEP pathway encoded by the E. coli ispE and Y. pestis ipk genes, respectively. In the first approach, we explored existing inhibitors of the GHMP kinases while in the second approach; we performed computational high-throughput screening of compound libraries by targeting the CDP-ME binding site of the two bacterial enzymes. From the first approach, we identified two compounds with 6-(benzylthio)-2-(2-hydroxyphenyl)-4-oxo-3,4-dihydro-2H-1,3-thiazine-5-carbonitrile and (Z)-3-methyl-4-((5-phenylfuran-2-yl)methylene)isoxazol-5(4H)-one scaffolds which inhibited Escherichia coli CDP-ME kinase in vitro. We then performed substructure search and docking experiments based on these two scaffolds and identified twenty three analogs for structure-activity relationship (SAR) studies. Three new compounds from the isoxazol-5(4H)-one series have shown inhibitory activities against E. coli and Y. pestis CDP-ME kinases with the IC50 values ranging from 7μM to 13μM. The second approach by computational high-throughput screening (HTS) of two million drug-like compounds yielded two compounds with benzenesulfonamide and acetamide moieties which, at a concentration of 20μM, inhibited 80% and 65%, respectively, of control CDP-ME kinase activity.
doi:10.1016/j.bmc.2011.08.012
PMCID: PMC3188437  PMID: 21903402
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.
doi:10.1128/JB.187.24.8395-8402.2005
PMCID: PMC1316992  PMID: 16321944
14.  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.
doi:10.1021/ja309557s
PMCID: PMC3644560  PMID: 23316732
15.  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
16.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035792
PMCID: PMC3340893  PMID: 22563402
17.  Study of IspH, A Key Enzyme in the Methylerythritol Phosphate Pathway Using Fluoro-substituted Substrate Analogues 
Organic letters  2011;13(21):5912-5915.
IspH, a [4Fe-4S]-cluster-containing enzyme, catalyzes the reductive dehydroxylation of 4-hydroxy-3-methyl-butenyl diphosphate (HMBPP) to isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP) in the methylerythritol phosphate pathway. Studies of IspH using fluoro-substituted substrate analogues to dissect the contributions of several factors to IspH catalysis, including the coordination of the HMBPP C4-OH group to the iron-sulfur cluster, the H-bonding network in the active site, and the electronic properties of the substrates are reported.
doi:10.1021/ol202559r
PMCID: PMC3205992  PMID: 21981393
18.  The Nonmevalonate Pathway of Isoprenoid Biosynthesis in Mycobacterium tuberculosis Is Essential and Transcriptionally Regulated by Dxs ▿ †  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;192(9):2424-2433.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis synthesizes isoprenoids via the nonmevalonate or DOXP pathway. Previous work demonstrated that three enzymes in the pathway (Dxr, IspD, and IspF) are all required for growth in vitro. We demonstrate the essentiality of the key genes dxs1 and gcpE, confirming that the pathway is of central importance and that the second homolog of the synthase (dxs2) cannot compensate for the loss of dxs1. We looked at the effect of overexpression of Dxr, Dxs1, Dxs2, and GcpE on viability and on growth in M. tuberculosis. Overexpression of dxs1 or dxs2 was inhibitory to growth, whereas overexpression of dxr or gcpE was not. Toxicity is likely to be, at least partially, due to depletion of pyruvate from the cells. Overexpression of dxs1 or gcpE resulted in increased flux through the pathway, as measured by accumulation of the metabolite 4-hydroxy-3-methyl-but-2-enyl pyrophosphate. We identified the functional translational start site and promoter region for dxr and demonstrated that it is expressed as part of a polycistronic mRNA with gcpE and two other genes. Increased expression of this operon was seen in cells overexpressing Dxs1, indicating that transcriptional control is effected by the first enzyme of the pathway via an unknown regulator.
doi:10.1128/JB.01402-09
PMCID: PMC2863480  PMID: 20172995
19.  Synthesis and evaluation of stable substrate analogs as potential modulators of cyclodiphosphate synthase IspF† 
MedChemComm  2013;4(1):130-134.
Stable IspF substrate analogs were synthesized. In the presence of substrate analogs, the E. coli IspF–MEP complex shows activities distinct from IspF, and bisphosphonates (BP) behave differently than their diphosphate (DP) counterparts. Bisphosphonate analogs activate and/or stabilize IspF, and only the closest structural substrate analog weakly inhibits the IspF–MEP complex.
doi:10.1039/C2MD20175E
PMCID: PMC3597847  PMID: 23509611
20.  Formal Synthesis of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl D-erythritol From D-(+)-Arabitol 
Tetrahedron  2012;68(43):8937-8941.
2-C-methyl-D-erythritol-4-phosphate (MEP) is a key chemical intermediate of the non-mevalonate pathway for isoprenoid biosynthesis employed by many pathogenic microbes. MEP is also the precursor for the synthesis of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl D-erythritol (CDP-ME), another key intermediate of the non-mevalonate pathway. As this pathway is non-existent in higher animals, including humans, it represents great opportunities for novel antimicrobial development. To facilitate the in-depth studies of this pathway, we reported here a formal synthesis of CDP-ME through a new synthesis of 2-C-Methyl-D-erythritol-4-phosphoric acid from D-(+)-arabitol.
doi:10.1016/j.tet.2012.08.020
PMCID: PMC3462025  PMID: 23049145
MEP; CDP-ME; selective phosphorylation; dioxanone; monophosphate
21.  Discovery of acetylene hydratase activity of the iron–sulphur protein IspH 
Nature communications  2012;3:1042.
The final step of the methylerythritol phosphate isoprenoid biosynthesis pathway is catalysed by the iron–sulphur enzyme IspH, producing the universal precursors of terpenes: isopentenyl diphosphate and dimethylallyl diphosphate. Here we report an unforeseen reaction discovered during the investigation of the interaction of IspH with acetylene inhibitors by X-ray crystallography, Mößbauer, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. In addition to its role as a 2H+/2e− reductase, IspH can hydrate acetylenes to aldehydes and ketones via anti-Markovnikov/Markovnikov addition. The reactions only occur with the oxidised protein and proceed via η1-O-enolate intermediates. One of these is characterized crystallographically and contains a C4 ligand oxygen bound to the unique, fourth iron in the 4Fe-4S cluster: this intermediate subsequently hydrolyzes to produce an aldehyde product. This unexpected side to IspH reactivity is of interest in the context of the mechanism of action of other acetylene hydratases, as well as in the design of antiinfectives targeting IspH.
doi:10.1038/ncomms2052
PMCID: PMC3745992  PMID: 22948824
22.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003395
PMCID: PMC3868525  PMID: 24367248
23.  A Closer Look at the Spectroscopic Properties of Possible Reaction Intermediates in WT and Mutant (E)-4-hydroxy-3-methyl-but-2-enyl Diphosphate Reductase (IspH/LytB)† 
Biochemistry  2012;51(24):4835-4849.
(E)-4-Hydroxy-3-methyl-but-2-enyl diphosphate reductase (IspH or LytB) catalyzes the terminal step of the MEP/DOXP pathway where it converts (E)-4-hydroxy-3-methyl-but-2-enyl diphosphate (HMBPP) into the two products isopentenyl diphosphate and dimethylallyl diphosphate. The reaction involves the reductive elimination of the C4 hydroxyl group, using a total of two electrons. Here we show that the active form of IspH contains a [4Fe-4S] cluster and not the [3Fe-4S] form. Our studies show that the cluster is not only the direct electron source for the reaction but that a reaction intermediate is bound directly to the cluster. This active form, has been trapped in a state, dubbed FeSA, that was detected in EPR spectroscopy when one-electron-reduced IspH was incubated with HMBPP. In addition, three mutants of IspH protein have been prepared and studied, His42, His124 and Glu126 (Aquifex aeolicus numbering), with particular attention to the effects on the cluster properties and possible reaction intermediates. None of the mutants affected the properties of the [4Fe-4S]+ cluster significantly, but different effects were observed when one-electron-reduced forms were incubated with HMBPP. Replacing the His42 led to an increased Km value and much lower catalytic efficiency, confirming the role of this residue in substrate binding. Replacing the His124 also resulted in lower catalytic efficiency. In this case, however, enzyme showed the loss of the [4Fe-4S]+ EPR signal upon addition of HMBPP without the subsequent formation of the FeSA signal. Instead, a radical-type signal was observed in some of the samples indicating that this residue plays a role in the correct positioning of the substrate. The incorrect orientation in the mutant leads to the formation of substrate-based radicals instead of the cluster-bound-intermediate complex FeSA. Replacing the Glu126 also resulted in lower catalytic efficiency, with yet a third type of EPR signal being detected upon incubation with HMBPP. 31P- and 2H-ENDOR measurements on the FeSA species incubated with regular and 2H-C4-labeled HMBPP reveal that the substrate binds to the enzyme in close proximity of the active-site cluster with the C4 adjacent to the site of linkage between the FeS cluster and HMBPP. Comparison of the spectroscopic properties of this intermediate to those of intermediates detected in (E)-4-hydroxy-3-methylbut-2-enyl diphosphate synthase and ferredoxin:thioredoxin reductase suggest that HMBPP binds to the FeS cluster via its hydroxyl group instead of a side-on binding as previously proposed for the species detected in the inactive Glu126 variant. Consequences for the IspH reaction mechanism are discussed.
doi:10.1021/bi3001215
PMCID: PMC3426640  PMID: 22646150
(E)-4-Hydroxy-3-methyl-but-2-enyl diphosphate reductase; IspH; EPR; ENDOR; reaction intermediate
24.  ENANTIOMERIC SYNTHESIS OF 2-C-METHYL-D-ERYTHRITOL 2, 4-CYCLODIPHOSPHATE 
Heterocycles  2008;76(1):243-247.
Enantiomerically pure 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 2,4-cyclodiphosphate 1 (ME-CPP) is synthesized from 1,2-O-isopropylidene-α-D-xylofuranose with facile phosphorylation in good yield. Subsequently, the synthesized enantiomerically pure 1 can be used as a substrate in IspG assays to identify inhibitors that may be developed into antibacterial drug leads.
PMCID: PMC2658599  PMID: 19305514
25.  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

Results 1-25 (331231)