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1.  Crystal Structures of Bifunctional Penicillin-Binding Protein 4 from Listeria monocytogenes 
Penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs), which catalyze the biosynthesis of the peptidoglycan chain of the bacterial cell wall, are the major molecular target of bacterial antibiotics. Here, we present the crystal structures of the bifunctional peptidoglycan glycosyltransferase (GT)/transpeptidase (TP) PBP4 from Listeria monocytogenes in the apo-form and covalently linked to two β-lactam antibiotics, ampicillin and carbenicillin. The orientation of the TP domain with respect to the GT domain is distinct from that observed in the previously reported structures of bifunctional PBPs, suggesting interdomain flexibility. In this structure, the active site of the GT domain is occluded by the close apposition of the linker domain, which supports the hypothesis that interdomain flexibility is related to the regulation of GT activity. The acylated structures reveal the mode of action of β-lactam antibiotics toward the class A PBP4 from the human pathogen L. monocytogenes. Ampicillin and carbenicillin can access the active site and be acylated without requiring a structural rearrangement. In addition, the active site of the TP domain in the apo-form is occupied by the tartrate molecule via extensive hydrogen bond interactions with the catalytically important residues; thus, derivatives of the tartrate molecule may be useful in the search for new antibiotics to inhibit PBPs.
PMCID: PMC3719761  PMID: 23669378
2.  Structural Analysis of the Role of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Penicillin-Binding Protein 5 in β-Lactam Resistance 
Penicillin-binding protein 5 (PBP5) is one of the most abundant PBPs in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Although its main function is that of a cell wall dd-carboxypeptidase, it possesses sufficient β-lactamase activity to contribute to the ability of P. aeruginosa to resist the antibiotic activity of the β-lactams. The study of these dual activities is important for understanding the mechanisms of antibiotic resistance by P. aeruginosa, an important human pathogen, and to the understanding of the evolution of β-lactamase activity from the PBP enzymes. We purified a soluble version of P. aeruginosa PBP5 (designated Pa sPBP5) by deletion of its C-terminal membrane anchor. Under in vitro conditions, Pa sPBP5 demonstrates both dd-carboxypeptidase and expanded-spectrum β-lactamase activities. Its crystal structure at a 2.05-Å resolution shows features closely resembling those of the class A β-lactamases, including a shortened loop spanning residues 74 to 78 near the active site and with respect to the conformations adopted by two active-site residues, Ser101 and Lys203. These features are absent in the related PBP5 of Escherichia coli. A comparison of the two Pa sPBP5 monomers in the asymmetric unit, together with molecular dynamics simulations, revealed an active-site flexibility that may explain its carbapenemase activity, a function that is absent in the E. coli PBP5 enzyme. Our functional and structural characterizations underscore the versatility of this PBP5 in contributing to the β-lactam resistance of P. aeruginosa while highlighting how broader β-lactamase activity may be encoded in the structural folds shared by the PBP and serine β-lactamase classes.
PMCID: PMC3697341  PMID: 23629710
3.  Mode of action of azthreonam. 
Azthreonam (SQ 26,776) is a member of a new class of monocyclic beta-lactam antibiotics. In Escherichia coli, azthreonam caused filamentation at its lowest effective concentration (0.2 microgram/ml), a morphological effect identical to that observed with cephalothin. The penicillin-binding protein (PBP) profile indicated a very high affinity for PBP3 (complete binding at 0.1 microgram/ml), a moderate affinity for PBP1a (complete binding at 10 micrograms/ml), and poor affinities for PBP1b, PBP2, PBP4, and PBP5/6 (complete binding at greater than or equal to 100 micrograms/ml). Accordingly, azthreonam had poor activity against Streptomyces R61 DD-carboxypeptidase (50% inhibition, greater than 100 micrograms/ml) and E. coli peptidoglycan transpeptidase (50% inhibition, 100 micrograms/ml). Azthreonam also showed very high affinity for PBP3 (complete binding at 0.1 microgram/ml) in Proteus vulgaris, Enterobacter cloacae, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In all four organisms, its PBP profile was similar to that observed in E. coli. It is concluded that azthreonam, although of novel structure, has a mode of action similar to that of cephalosporins, affecting specifically septation in E. coli and most likely other gram-negative bacteria.
PMCID: PMC182051  PMID: 6180685
4.  Identification of a penicillin-binding protein 3 homolog, PBP3x, in Pseudomonas aeruginosa: gene cloning and growth phase-dependent expression. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1997;179(5):1490-1496.
A homolog of Pseudomonas aeruginosa penicillin-binding protein 3 (PBP3), named PBP3x in this study, was identified by using degenerate primers based on conserved amino acid motifs in the high-molecular-weight PBPs. Analysis of the translated sequence of the pbpC gene encoding this PBP3x revealed that 41 and 48% of its amino acids were identical to those of Escherichia coli and P. aeruginosa PBP3s, respectively. The downstream sequence of pbpC encoded convergently transcribed homologs of the E. coli soxR gene and the Mycobacterium bovis adh gene. The pbpC gene product was expressed from the T7 promoter in E. coli and was exported to the cytoplasmic membrane of E. coli cells and could bind [3H] penicillin. By using a broad-host-range vector, pUCP27, the pbpC gene was expressed in P. aeruginosa PAO4089. [3H]penicillin-binding competition assays indicated that the pbpC gene product had lower affinities for several PBP3-targeted beta-lactam antibiotics than P. aeruginosa PBP3 did, and overexpression of the pbpC gene product had no effect on the susceptibility to the PBP3-targeted antibiotics tested. By gene replacement, a PBP3x-defective interposon mutant (strain HC132) was obtained and confirmed by Southern blot analysis. Inactivation of PBP3x caused no changes in the cell morphology or growth rate of exponentially growing cells, suggesting that pbpC was not required for cell viability under normal laboratory growth conditions. However, the upstream sequence of pbpC contained a potential sigma(s) recognition site, and pbpC gene expression appeared to be growth rate regulated. [3H]penicillin-binding assays indicated that PBP3 was mainly produced during exponential growth whereas PBP3x was produced in the stationary phase of growth.
PMCID: PMC178857  PMID: 9045804
5.  Role of Class A Penicillin-Binding Proteins in PBP5-Mediated β-Lactam Resistance in Enterococcus faecalis 
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(5):1221-1228.
Peptidoglycan polymerization complexes contain multimodular penicillin-binding proteins (PBP) of classes A and B that associate a conserved C-terminal transpeptidase module to an N-terminal glycosyltransferase or morphogenesis module, respectively. In Enterococcus faecalis, class B PBP5 mediates intrinsic resistance to the cephalosporin class of β-lactam antibiotics, such as ceftriaxone. To identify the glycosyltransferase partner(s) of PBP5, combinations of deletions were introduced in all three class A PBP genes of E. faecalis JH2-2 (ponA, pbpF, and pbpZ). Among mutants with single or double deletions, only JH2-2 ΔponA ΔpbpF was susceptible to ceftriaxone. Ceftriaxone resistance was restored by heterologous expression of pbpF from Enterococcus faecium but not by mgt encoding the monofunctional glycosyltransferase of Staphylococcus aureus. Thus, PBP5 partners essential for peptidoglycan polymerization in the presence of β-lactams formed a subset of the class A PBPs of E. faecalis, and heterospecific complementation was observed with an ortholog from E. faecium. Site-directed mutagenesis of pbpF confirmed that the catalytic serine residue of the transpeptidase module was not required for resistance. None of the three class A PBP genes was essential for viability, although deletion of the three genes led to an increase in the generation time and to a decrease in peptidoglycan cross-linking. As the E. faecalis chromosome does not contain any additional glycosyltransferase-related genes, these observations indicate that glycan chain polymerization in the triple mutant is performed by a novel type of glycosyltransferase. The latter enzyme was not inhibited by moenomycin, since deletion of the three class A PBP genes led to high-level resistance to this glycosyltransferase inhibitor.
PMCID: PMC344401  PMID: 14973044
6.  Role of Penicillin-Binding Protein 2 (PBP2) in the Antibiotic Susceptibility and Cell Wall Cross-Linking of Staphylococcus aureus: Evidence for the Cooperative Functioning of PBP2, PBP4, and PBP2A 
Journal of Bacteriology  2005;187(5):1815-1824.
Ceftizoxime, a beta-lactam antibiotic with high selective affinity for penicillin-binding protein 2 (PBP2) of Staphylococcus aureus, was used to select a spontaneous resistant mutant of S. aureus strain 27s. The stable resistant mutant ZOX3 had an increased ceftizoxime MIC and a decreased affinity of its PBP2 for ceftizoxime and produced peptidoglycan in which the proportion of highly cross-linked muropeptides was reduced. The pbpB gene of ZOX3 carried a single C-to-T nucleotide substitution at nucleotide 1373, causing replacement of a proline with a leucine at amino acid residue 458 of the transpeptidase domain of the protein, close to the SFN conserved motif. Experimental proof that this point mutation was responsible for the drug-resistant phenotype, and also for the decreased PBP2 affinity and reduced cell wall cross-linking, was provided by allelic replacement experiments and site-directed mutagenesis. Disruption of pbpD, the structural gene of PBP4, in either the parental strain or the mutant caused a large decrease in the highly cross-linked muropeptide components of the cell wall and in the mutant caused a massive accumulation of muropeptide monomers as well. Disruption of pbpD also caused increased sensitivity to ceftizoxime in both the parental cells and the ZOX3 mutant, while introduction of the plasmid-borne mecA gene, the genetic determinant of the beta-lactam resistance protein PBP2A, had the opposite effects. The findings provide evidence for the cooperative functioning of two native S. aureus transpeptidases (PBP2 and PBP4) and an acquired transpeptidase (PBP2A) in staphylococcal cell wall biosynthesis and susceptibility to antimicrobial agents.
PMCID: PMC1064008  PMID: 15716453
7.  Molecular Basis for the Role of Staphylococcus aureus Penicillin Binding Protein 4 in Antimicrobial Resistance▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2009;192(1):134-144.
Penicillin binding proteins (PBPs) are membrane-associated proteins that catalyze the final step of murein biosynthesis. These proteins function as either transpeptidases or carboxypeptidases and in a few cases demonstrate transglycosylase activity. Both transpeptidase and carboxypeptidase activities of PBPs occur at the d-Ala-d-Ala terminus of a murein precursor containing a disaccharide pentapeptide comprising N-acetylglucosamine and N-acetyl-muramic acid-l-Ala-d-Glu-l-Lys-d-Ala-d-Ala. β-Lactam antibiotics inhibit these enzymes by competing with the pentapeptide precursor for binding to the active site of the enzyme. Here we describe the crystal structure, biochemical characteristics, and expression profile of PBP4, a low-molecular-mass PBP from Staphylococcus aureus strain COL. The crystal structures of PBP4-antibiotic complexes reported here were determined by molecular replacement, using the atomic coordinates deposited by the New York Structural Genomics Consortium. While the pbp4 gene is not essential for the viability of S. aureus, the knockout phenotype of this gene is characterized by a marked reduction in cross-linked muropeptide and increased vancomycin resistance. Unlike other PBPs, we note that expression of PBP4 was not substantially altered under different experimental conditions, nor did it change across representative hospital- or community-associated strains of S. aureus that were examined. In vitro data on purified recombinant S. aureus PBP4 suggest that it is a β-lactamase and is not trapped as an acyl intermediate with β-lactam antibiotics. Put together, the expression analysis and biochemical features of PBP4 provide a framework for understanding the function of this protein in S. aureus and its role in antimicrobial resistance.
PMCID: PMC2798245  PMID: 19854906
8.  Overproduction of Penicillin-Binding Protein 2 and Its Inactive Variants Causes Morphological Changes and Lysis in Escherichia coli▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;189(14):4975-4983.
Penicillin-binding protein 2 (PBP 2) has long been known to be essential for rod-shaped morphology in gram-negative bacteria, including Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In the course of earlier studies with P. aeruginosa PBP 2, we observed that E. coli was sensitive to the overexpression of its gene, pbpA. In this study, we examined E. coli overproducing both P. aeruginosa and E. coli PBP 2. Growth of cells entered a stationary phase soon after induction of gene expression, and cells began to lyse upon prolonged incubation. Concomitant with the growth retardation, cells were observed to have changed morphologically from typical rods into enlarged spheres. Inactive derivatives of the PBP 2s were engineered, involving site-specific replacement of their catalytic Ser residues with Ala in their transpeptidase module. Overproduction of these inactive PBPs resulted in identical effects. Likewise, overproduction of PBP 2 derivatives possessing only their N-terminal non-penicillin-binding module (i.e., lacking their C-terminal transpeptidase module) produced similar effects. However, E. coli overproducing engineered derivatives of PBP 2 lacking their noncleavable, N-terminal signal sequence and membrane anchor were found to grow and divide at the same rate as control cells. The morphological effects and lysis were also eliminated entirely when overproduction of PBP 2 and variants was conducted with E. coli MHD79, a strain lacking six lytic transglycosylases. A possible interaction between the N-terminal domain of PBP 2 and lytic transglycosylases in vivo through the formation of multienzyme complexes is discussed.
PMCID: PMC1951868  PMID: 17513478
9.  β-Lactam Resistance Response Triggered by Inactivation of a Nonessential Penicillin-Binding Protein 
PLoS Pathogens  2009;5(3):e1000353.
It has long been recognized that the modification of penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs) to reduce their affinity for β-lactams is an important mechanism (target modification) by which Gram-positive cocci acquire antibiotic resistance. Among Gram-negative rods (GNR), however, this mechanism has been considered unusual, and restricted to clinically irrelevant laboratory mutants for most species. Using as a model Pseudomonas aeruginosa, high up on the list of pathogens causing life-threatening infections in hospitalized patients worldwide, we show that PBPs may also play a major role in β-lactam resistance in GNR, but through a totally distinct mechanism. Through a detailed genetic investigation, including whole-genome analysis approaches, we demonstrate that high-level (clinical) β-lactam resistance in vitro, in vivo, and in the clinical setting is driven by the inactivation of the dacB-encoded nonessential PBP4, which behaves as a trap target for β-lactams. The inactivation of this PBP is shown to determine a highly efficient and complex β-lactam resistance response, triggering overproduction of the chromosomal β-lactamase AmpC and the specific activation of the CreBC (BlrAB) two-component regulator, which in turn plays a major role in resistance. These findings are a major step forward in our understanding of β-lactam resistance biology, and, more importantly, they open up new perspectives on potential antibiotic targets for the treatment of infectious diseases.
Author Summary
Decades after their discovery, β-lactams remain key components of our antimicrobial armamentarium for the treatment of infectious diseases. Nevertheless, resistance to these antibiotics is increasing alarmingly. There are two major bacterial strategies to develop resistance to β-lactam antibiotics: the production of enzymes that inactivate them (β-lactamases), or the modification of their targets in the cell wall (the essential penicillin-binding proteins, PBPs). Using the pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa as a model microorganism, we show that high-level (clinical) β-lactam resistance in vitro and in vivo frequently occurs through a previously unrecognized, totally distinct resistance pathway, driven by the mutational inactivation of a nonessential PBP (PBP4) that behaves as a trap target for β-lactams. We show that mutation of this PBP determines a highly efficient and complex β-lactam resistance response, triggering overproduction of the chromosomal β-lactamase AmpC and the specific activation of a two-component regulator, which in turn plays a key role in resistance. These findings are a major step forward in our understanding of β-lactam resistance biology, and, more importantly, they open up new perspectives on potential antibiotic targets for the treatment of infectious diseases.
PMCID: PMC2654508  PMID: 19325877
10.  New Noncovalent Inhibitors of Penicillin-Binding Proteins from Penicillin-Resistant Bacteria 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e19418.
Penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs) are well known and validated targets for antibacterial therapy. The most important clinically used inhibitors of PBPs β-lactams inhibit transpeptidase activity of PBPs by forming a covalent penicilloyl-enzyme complex that blocks the normal transpeptidation reaction; this finally results in bacterial death. In some resistant bacteria the resistance is acquired by active-site distortion of PBPs, which lowers their acylation efficiency for β-lactams. To address this problem we focused our attention to discovery of novel noncovalent inhibitors of PBPs.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Our in-house bank of compounds was screened for inhibition of three PBPs from resistant bacteria: PBP2a from Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), PBP2x from Streptococcus pneumoniae strain 5204, and PBP5fm from Enterococcus faecium strain D63r. Initial hit inhibitor obtained by screening was then used as a starting point for computational similarity searching for structurally related compounds and several new noncovalent inhibitors were discovered. Two compounds had promising inhibitory activities of both PBP2a and PBP2x 5204, and good in-vitro antibacterial activities against a panel of Gram-positive bacterial strains.
We found new noncovalent inhibitors of PBPs which represent important starting points for development of more potent inhibitors of PBPs that can target penicillin-resistant bacteria.
PMCID: PMC3090393  PMID: 21573060
11.  Structure-Activity Relationships of Different β-Lactam Antibiotics against a Soluble Form of Enterococcus faecium PBP5, a Type II Bacterial Transpeptidase 
Penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs) catalyze the essential reactions in the biosynthesis of cell wall peptidoglycan from glycopeptide precursors. β-Lactam antibiotics normally interfere with this process by reacting covalently with the active site serine to form a stable acyl-enzyme. The design of novel β-lactams active against penicillin-susceptible and penicillin-resistant organisms will require a better understanding of the molecular details of this reaction. To that end, we compared the affinities of different β-lactam antibiotics to a modified soluble form of a resistant Enterococcus faecium PBP5 (Δ1-36 rPBP5). The soluble protein, Δ1-36 rPBP5, was expressed in Escherichia coli and purified, and the NH2-terminal protein sequence was verified by amino acid sequencing. Using β-lactams with different R1 side chains, we show that azlocillin has greater affinity for Δ1-36 rPBP5 than piperacillin and ampicillin (apparent Ki = 7 ± 0.3 μM, compared to 36 ± 3 and 51 ± 10 μM, respectively). Azlocillin also exhibits the most rapid acylation rate (apparent k2 = 15 ± 4 M−1 s−1). Meropenem demonstrates an affinity for Δ1-36 rPBP5 comparable to that of ampicillin (apparent Ki = 51 ± 15 μM) but is slower at acylating (apparent k2 = 0.14 ± 0.02 M−1 s−1). This characterization defines important structure-activity relationships for this clinically relevant type II transpeptidase, shows that the rate of formation of the acyl-enzyme is an essential factor determining the efficacy of a β-lactam, and suggests that the specific side chain interactions of β-lactams could be modified to improve inactivation of resistant PBPs.
PMCID: PMC547200  PMID: 15673741
12.  Pan-β-Lactam Resistance Development in Pseudomonas aeruginosa Clinical Strains: Molecular Mechanisms, Penicillin-Binding Protein Profiles, and Binding Affinities 
We investigated the mechanisms leading to Pseudomonas aeruginosa pan-β-lactam resistance (PBLR) development during the treatment of nosocomial infections, with a particular focus on the modification of penicillin-binding protein (PBP) profiles and imipenem, ceftazidime, and ceftolozane (former CXA-101) PBP binding affinities. For this purpose, six clonally related pairs of sequential susceptible-PBLR isolates were studied. The presence of oprD, ampD, and dacB mutations was explored by PCR followed by sequencing and the expression of ampC and efflux pump genes by real-time reverse transcription-PCR. The fluorescent penicillin Bocillin FL was used to determine PBP profiles in membrane preparations from all pairs, and 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50s) of ceftolozane, ceftazidime, and imipenem were analyzed in 3 of them. Although a certain increase was noted (0 to 5 2-fold dilutions), the MICs of ceftolozane were ≤4 μg/ml in all PBLR isolates. All 6 PBLR isolates lacked OprD and overexpressed ampC and one or several efflux pumps, particularly mexB and/or mexY. Additionally, 5 of them showed modified PBP profiles, including a modified pattern (n = 1) or diminished expression (n = 1) of PBP1a and a lack of PBP4 expression (n = 4), which correlated with AmpC overexpression driven by dacB mutation. Analysis of the essential PBP IC50s revealed significant variation of PBP1a/b binding affinities, both within each susceptible-PBLR pair and across the different pairs. Moreover, despite the absence of significant differences in gene expression or sequence, a clear tendency toward increased PBP2 (imipenem) and PBP3 (ceftazidime, ceftolozane, imipenem) IC50s was noted in PBLR isolates. Thus, our results suggest that in addition to AmpC, efflux pumps, and OprD, the modification of PBP patterns appears to play a role in the in vivo emergence of PBLR strains, which still conserve certain susceptibility to the new antipseudomonal cephalosporin ceftolozane.
PMCID: PMC3421878  PMID: 22733064
13.  Crystal Structures of Biapenem and Tebipenem Complexed with Penicillin-Binding Proteins 2X and 1A from Streptococcus pneumoniae▿  
Biapenem is a parenteral carbapenem antibiotic that exhibits wide-ranging antibacterial activity, remarkable chemical stability, and extensive stability against human renal dehydropeptidase-I. Tebipenem is the active form of tebipenem pivoxil, a novel oral carbapenem antibiotic that has a high level of bioavailability in humans, in addition to the above-mentioned features. β-lactam antibiotics, including carbapenems, target penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs), which are membrane-associated enzymes that play essential roles in peptidoglycan biosynthesis. To envisage the binding of carbapenems to PBPs, we determined the crystal structures of the trypsin-digested forms of both PBP 2X and PBP 1A from Streptococcus pneumoniae strain R6, each complexed with biapenem or tebipenem. The structures of the complexes revealed that the carbapenem C-2 side chains form hydrophobic interactions with Trp374 and Thr526 of PBP 2X and with Trp411 and Thr543 of PBP 1A. The Trp and Thr residues are conserved in PBP 2B. These results suggest that interactions between the C-2 side chains of carbapenems and the conserved Trp and Thr residues in PBPs play important roles in the binding of carbapenems to PBPs.
PMCID: PMC2415762  PMID: 18391040
14.  Penicillin-binding protein inactivation by human neutrophil myeloperoxidase. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1991;88(3):750-754.
Myeloperoxidase (MPO), H2O2, and chloride comprise a potent antimicrobial system believed to contribute to the antimicrobial functions of neutrophils and monocytes. The mechanisms of microbicidal action are complex and not fully defined. This report describes the MPO-mediated inactivation, in Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, of a class of cytoplasmic membrane enzymes (penicillin-binding proteins, PBPs) found in all eubacteria, that covalently bind beta-lactam antibiotics to their active sites with loss of enzymatic activity. Inactivation of "essential" PBPs, including PBP1-PBP3 of E. coli, leads to unbalanced bacterial growth and cell death. MPO treatment of bacteria was associated with loss of penicillin binding by PBPs, strongly suggesting PBP inactivation. In E. coli, PBP inactivation was most rapid with PBP3, where the rate of decline in binding activity approximated but did not equal loss of viability. Changes in E. coli morphology (elongation), observed just before bacteriolysis, were consistent with early predominant inactivation of PBP3. We conclude that inactivation of essential PBPs is sufficient to account for an important fraction of MPO-mediated bacterial action. This feature of MPO action interestingly recapitulates an antibacterial strategy evolved by beta-lactam-producing molds that must compete with bacteria for limited ecologic niches.
PMCID: PMC295453  PMID: 1653273
15.  A PBP 2 Mutant Devoid of the Transpeptidase Domain Abolishes Spermine–β-Lactam Synergy in Staphylococcus aureus Mu50 
Exogenous spermine was reported to enhance the killing of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) by β-lactams through a strong synergistic effect of unknown nature. Spermine alone also exerts an antimicrobial activity against S. aureus in a pH-dependent manner. MIC measurements revealed stronger effects of spermine under alkaline conditions, suggesting the nucleophilic property of spermine instead of its positive charge as the cause of adverse effects. A spontaneous suppressor mutant (MuM) of MRSA Mu50 was selected for spermine resistance and conferred complete abolishment of spermine–β-lactam synergy. In comparison to that in Mu50, the spermine MIC in MuM remained constant (64 mM) at pH 6 to 8; however, MuM, a heat-sensitive mutant, also grew in a very narrow pH range. Furthermore, MuM acquired a unique phenotype of vancomycin-spermine synergy. Genome resequencing revealed a 7-bp deletion in pbpB, which results in a truncated penicillin-binding protein 2 (PBP 2) without the transpeptidase domain at the C terminus while the N-terminal transglycosidase domain remains intact. The results of fluorescent Bocillin labeling experiments confirmed the presence of this defective PBP 2 in MuM. All the aforementioned phenotypes of MuM were reverted to those of Mu50 after complementation by the wild-type pbpB carried on a recombinant plasmid. The anticipated changes in cell wall metabolism and composition in MuM were evidenced by observations that the cell wall of MuM was more susceptible to enzyme hydrolysis and that MuM exhibited a lower level of autolytic activities. Pleiotropic alterations in gene expression were revealed by microarray analysis, suggesting a remarkable flexibility of MuM to circumvent cell wall damage by triggering adaptations that are complex but completely different from that of the cell wall stress stimulon. In summary, these results reveal phenotypic changes and transcriptome adaptations in a unique pbpB mutant and provide evidence to support the idea that exogenous spermine may perturb normal cell wall formation through its interactions with PBP 2.
PMCID: PMC3256068  PMID: 22005998
16.  Role of Class A Penicillin-Binding Proteins in the Expression of β-Lactam Resistance in Enterococcus faecium▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2009;191(11):3649-3656.
Peptidoglycan is polymerized by monofunctional d,d-transpeptidases belonging to class B penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs) and monofunctional glycosyltransferases and by bifunctional enzymes that combine both activities (class A PBPs). Three genes encoding putative class A PBPs (pbpF, pbpZ, and ponA) were deleted from the chromosome of Enterococcus faecium D344R in all possible combinations in order to identify the glycosyltransferases that cooperate with low-affinity class B Pbp5 for synthesis of peptidoglycan in the presence of β-lactam antibiotics. The viability of the triple mutant indicated that glycan strands can be polymerized independently from class A PBPs by an unknown glycosyltranferase. The susceptibility of the ΔpbpF ΔponA mutant and triple mutants to extended spectrum cephalosporins (ceftriaxone and cefepime) identified either PbpF or PonA as essential partners of Pbp5 for peptidoglycan polymerization in the presence of the drugs. Mass spectrometry analysis of peptidoglycan structure showed that loss of PonA and PbpF activity led to a minor decrease in the extent of peptidoglycan cross-linking by the remaining PBPs without any detectable compensatory increase in the participation of the l,d-transpeptidase in peptidoglycan synthesis. Optical density measurements and electron microscopy analyses showed that the ΔpbpF ΔponA mutant underwent increased stationary-phase autolysis compared to the parental strain. Unexpectedly, deletion of the class A pbp genes revealed dissociation between the expression of resistance to cephalosporins and penicillins, although the production of Pbp5 was required for resistance to both classes of drugs. Thus, susceptibility of Pbp5-mediated peptidoglycan cross-linking to different β-lactam antibiotics differed as a function of its partner glycosyltransferase.
PMCID: PMC2681891  PMID: 19304851
17.  Possible role of Escherichia coli penicillin-binding protein 6 in stabilization of stationary-phase peptidoglycan. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1992;174(23):7572-7578.
Plasmids for high-level expression of penicillin-binding protein 6 (PBP6) were constructed, giving rise to overproduction of PBP6 under the control of the lambda pR promoter in either the periplasmic or the cytoplasmic space. In contrast to penicillin-binding protein 5 (PBP5), the presence of high amounts of PBP6 in the periplasm as well as in the cytoplasm did not result in growth as spherical cells or in lysis. Deletion of the C-terminal membrane anchor of PBP6 resulted in a soluble form of the protein (PBP6s350). Electron micrographs of thin sections of cells overexpressing both native membrane-bound and soluble PBP6 in the periplasm revealed a polar retraction of the cytoplasmic membrane. Cytoplasmic overexpression of native PBP6 gave rise to the formation of membrane vesicles, whereas the soluble PBP6 formed inclusion bodies in the cytoplasm. Both the membrane-bound and the soluble forms of PBP6 were purified to homogeneity by using the immobilized dye Procion rubine MX-B. Purified preparations of PBP6 and PBP6s350 formed a 14[C]penicillin-protein complex at a 1:1 stoichiometry. The half-lives of the complexes were 8.5 and 6 min, respectively. In contrast to PBP5, no DD-carboxypeptidase activity could be detected for PBP6 by using bisacetyl-L-Lys-D-Ala-D-Ala and several other substrates. These findings led us to conclude that PBP6 has a biological function clearly distinct from that of PBP5 and to suggest a role for PBP6 in the stabilization of the peptidoglycan during stationary phase.
PMCID: PMC207467  PMID: 1447130
18.  Structural and Functional Difference of Pheromone Binding Proteins in Discriminating Chemicals in the Gypsy Moth, Lymantria Dispar 
Pheromone-binding proteins (PBPs) of the gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar L., play an important role in olfaction. Here structures of PBPs were first built by Homology Modeling, and each model of PBPs had seven α-helices and a large hydrophobic cavity including 25 residues for PBP1 and 30 residues for PBP2. Three potential semiochemicals were first screened by CDOCKER program based on the PBP models and chemical database. These chemicals were Palmitic acid n-butyl ester (Pal), Bis(3,4-epoxycyclohexylmethyl) adipate (Bis), L-trans-epoxysuccinyl-isoleucyl-proline methyl ester propylamide (CA-074). The analysis of chemicals docking the proteins showed one hydrogen bond was established between the residues Lys94 and (+)-Disparlure ((+)-D), and л-л interactions were present between Phe36 of PBP1 and (+)-D. The Lys94 of PBP1 formed two and three hydrogen bonds with Bis and CA-074, respectively. There was no residue of PBP2 interacting with these four chemicals except Bis forming one hydrogen bond with Lys121. After simulating the conformational changes of LdisPBPs at pH7.3 and 5.5 by constant pH molecular dynamics simulation in implicit solvent, the N-terminal sequences of PBPs was unfolded, only having five α-helices, and PBP2 had larger binding pocket at 7.3 than PBP1. To investigate the changes of α-helices at different pH, far-UV and near-UV circular dichroism showed PBPs consist of α-helices, and the tertiary structures of PBP1 and PBP2 were influenced at pH7.3 and 5.5. The fluorescence binding assay indicated that PBP1 and PBP2 have similarly binding affinity to (+)-D at pH 5.5 and 7.3, respectively. At pH 5.5, the dissociation constant of the complex between PBP1 and 2-decyl-1-oxaspiro [2.2] pentane (OXP1) was 0.68±0.01μM, for (+)-D was 5.32±0.11μM, while PBP2 with OXP1 and (+)-D were 1.88±0.02μM and 5.54±0.04μM, respectively. Three chemicals screened had higher affinity to PBP1 than (+)-D except Pal at pH5.5, and had lower affinity than (+)-D at pH7.3. To PBP2, these chemicals had lower affinity than the sex pheromone except Bis at pH 5.5 and pH 7.3. Only PBP1 had higher affinity with Sal than the sex pheromone at pH 5.5. Therefore, the structures of PBP1 and PBP2 had different changes at pH5.5 and 7.3, showing different affinity to chemicals. This study helps understanding the role of PBPs as well as in developing more efficient chemicals for pest control.
PMCID: PMC3421229  PMID: 22904666
Lymantria dispar; pheromone-binding protein; bioinformatics; discrimination; semiochemicals
19.  Discrete and overlapping functions of peptidoglycan synthases in growth, cell division and virulence of Listeria monocytogenes 
Molecular Microbiology  2014;95(2):332-351.
Upon ingestion of contaminated food, Listeria monocytogenes can cause serious infections in humans that are normally treated with β-lactam antibiotics. These target Listeria's five high molecular weight penicillin-binding proteins (HMW PBPs), which are required for peptidoglycan biosynthesis. The two bi-functional class A HMW PBPs PBP A1 and PBP A2 have transglycosylase and transpeptidase domains catalyzing glycan chain polymerization and peptide cross-linking, respectively, whereas the three class B HMW PBPs B1, B2 and B3 are monofunctional transpeptidases. The precise roles of these PBPs in the cell cycle are unknown. Here we show that green fluorescent protein (GFP)-PBP fusions localized either at the septum, the lateral wall or both, suggesting distinct and overlapping functions. Genetic data confirmed this view: PBP A1 and PBP A2 could not be inactivated simultaneously, and a conditional double mutant strain is largely inducer dependent. PBP B1 is required for rod-shape and PBP B2 for cross-wall biosynthesis and viability, whereas PBP B3 is dispensable for growth and cell division. PBP B1 depletion dramatically increased β-lactam susceptibilities and stimulated spontaneous autolysis but had no effect on peptidoglycan cross-linkage. Our in vitro virulence assays indicated that the complete set of all HMW PBPs is required for maximal virulence.
PMCID: PMC4320753  PMID: 25424554
20.  Molecular Dynamics Simulation of the Complex PBP-2x with Drug Cefuroxime to Explore the Drug Resistance Mechanism of Streptococcus suis R61 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e35941.
Drug resistance of Streptococcus suis strains is a worldwide problem for both humans and pigs. Previous studies have noted that penicillin-binding protein (PBPs) mutation is one important cause of β-lactam antibiotic resistance. In this study, we used the molecular dynamics (MD) method to study the interaction differences between cefuroxime (CES) and PBP2x within two newly sequenced Streptococcus suis: drug-sensitive strain A7, and drug-resistant strain R61. The MM-PBSA results proved that the drug bound much more tightly to PBP2x in A7 (PBP2x-A7) than to PBP2x in R61 (PBP2x-R61). This is consistent with the evidently different resistances of the two strains to cefuroxime. Hydrogen bond analysis indicated that PBP2x-A7 preferred to bind to cefuroxime rather than to PBP2x-R61. Three stable hydrogen bonds were formed by the drug and PBP2x-A7, while only one unstable bond existed between the drug and PBP2x-R61. Further, we found that the Gln569, Tyr594, and Gly596 residues were the key mutant residues contributing directly to the different binding by pair wise energy decomposition comparison. By investigating the binding mode of the drug, we found that mutant residues Ala320, Gln553, and Thr595 indirectly affected the final phenomenon by topological conformation alteration. Above all, our results revealed some details about the specific interaction between the two PBP2x proteins and the drug cefuroxime. To some degree, this explained the drug resistance mechanism of Streptococcus suis and as a result could be helpful for further drug design or improvement.
PMCID: PMC3338546  PMID: 22563422
21.  Crystal Structure of Penicillin-Binding Protein 3 (PBP3) from Escherichia coli 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e98042.
In Escherichia coli, penicillin-binding protein 3 (PBP3), also known as FtsI, is a central component of the divisome, catalyzing cross-linking of the cell wall peptidoglycan during cell division. PBP3 is mainly periplasmic, with a 23 residues cytoplasmic tail and a single transmembrane helix. We have solved the crystal structure of a soluble form of PBP3 (PBP357–577) at 2.5 Å revealing the two modules of high molecular weight class B PBPs, a carboxy terminal module exhibiting transpeptidase activity and an amino terminal module of unknown function. To gain additional insight, the PBP3 Val88-Ser165 subdomain (PBP388–165), for which the electron density is poorly defined in the PBP3 crystal, was produced and its structure solved by SAD phasing at 2.1 Å. The structure shows a three dimensional domain swapping with a β-strand of one molecule inserted between two strands of the paired molecule, suggesting a possible role in PBP357–577 dimerization.
PMCID: PMC4038516  PMID: 24875494
22.  Hybrid proteins of the transglycosylase and the transpeptidase domains of PBP1B and PBP3 of Escherichia coli. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1995;177(21):6290-6293.
The construction of hybrid proteins of PBP1B and PBP3 has been described. One hybrid protein (PBP1B/3) contained the transglycosylase domain of PBP1B and the transpeptidase domain of PBP3. In the other hybrid protein, the putative transglycosylase domain of PBP3 was coupled to the transpeptidase domain of PBP1B (PBP3/1B). The hybrid proteins were localized in the cell envelope in a similar way as the wild-type PBP1B. In vitro isolates of the strains containing the hybrid proteins had a transglycosylase activity intermediate between that of wild-type PBP1B-producing strain and that of a PBP1B overproducer. Analysis with specific antibiotics against PBP1A/1B and PBP3 and mutant analysis in strains containing PBP3/1B revealed no detectable effects in vivo compared with wild-type strains. The same was shown for PBP1B/3 when the experiments were performed in a recA background. The data indicate that the hybrid proteins cannot replace native penicillin-binding proteins. This finding suggests that functional high-molecular-weight penicillin-binding protein specificity is at least in part determined by the unique combination of the two functional domains.
PMCID: PMC177472  PMID: 7592397
23.  Cloning and sequencing of the low-affinity penicillin-binding protein 3r-encoding gene of Enterococcus hirae S185: modular design and structural organization of the protein. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1993;175(10):2844-2852.
The clinical isolate Enterococcus hirae S185 has a peculiar mode of resistance to penicillin in that it possesses two low-affinity penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs): the 71-kDa PBP5, also found in other enterococci, and the 77-kDa PBP3r. The two PBPs have the same low affinity for the drug and are immunochemically related to each other. The PBP3r-encoding gene has been cloned and sequenced, and the derived amino acid sequence has been compared by computer-assisted hydrophobic cluster analysis with that of the low-affinity PBP5 of E. hirae R40, the low-affinity PBP2' of Staphylococcus aureus, and the PBP2 of Escherichia coli used as the standard of reference of the high-M(r) PBPs of class B. On the basis of the shapes, sizes, and distributions of the hydrophobic and nonhydrophobic clusters along the sequences and the linear amino acid alignments derived from this analysis, the dyad PBP3r-PBP5 has an identity index of 78.5%, the triad PBP3r-PBP5-PBP2' has an identity index of 29%, and the tetrad PBP3r-PBP5-PBP2'-PBP2 (of E. coli) has an identity index of 13%. In spite of this divergence, the low-affinity PBPs are of identical modular design and possess the nine amino acid groupings (boxes) typical of the N-terminal and C-terminal domains of the high-M(r) PBPs of class B. At variance with the latter PBPs, however, the low-affinity PBPs have an additional approximately 110-amino-acid polypeptide stretch that is inserted between the amino end of the N-terminal domain and the carboxy end of the membrane anchor. While the enterococcal PBP5 gene is chromosome borne, the PBP3r gene appears to be physically linked to the erm gene, which confers resistance to erythromycin and is known to be plasmid borne in almost all the Streptococcus spp. examined.
PMCID: PMC204600  PMID: 8491705
24.  New Antipseudomonal Penicillin, PC-904: Affinity to Penicillin-Binding Proteins and Inhibition of the Enzyme Cross-Linking Peptidoglycan 
The mechanism of action of a new antipseudomonal penicillin, PC-904, was studied with respect to its binding affinities to penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs) and its inhibitory activities on cross-linking enzymes of peptidoglycan synthesis in vitro. PC-904 showed especially high affinity (compared with that of penicillin G) to Escherichia coli PBP-3. It also had high affinities to PBP-2 and -1Bs and low affinities to PBP-1A, -4, -5, and -6. Similar results were obtained with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, in which this antibiotic showed very high affinity (compared with that of penicillin G) to PBP-3, -1A (presumably corresponding to E. coli PBP-1Bs), and -2; there was especially high affinity to PBP-3 and much less affinity to PBP-1B (presumably corresponding to E. coli PBP-1A). These results are compatible with morphological observations that at concentrations near its minimal inhibitory concentration or less, this antibiotic induced the formation of filamentous cells of E. coli and P. aeruginosa. At higher concentrations or after prolonged incubation, it induced lysis of the cells. The remarkably high affinity of PC-904 to pseudomonal PBP-3, -1A, and -2 may partly explain the potent antipseudomonal activity of this antibiotic. In E. coli, the concentration of PC-904 required to inhibit the cross-linking reaction in enzymatic peptidoglycan synthesis, presumably carried out by PBP-1Bs, was as low as the inhibitory concentrations of penicillin G, ampicillin, and carbenicillin.
PMCID: PMC352517  PMID: 102247
25.  Unusual conformation of the SxN motif in the crystal structure of penicillin-binding protein A from Mycobacterium tuberculosis 
Journal of molecular biology  2010;398(1):54-65.
PBPA from Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) is a class B-like penicillin-binding protein (PBP) that is not essential for cell growth in Mtb, but is important for proper cell division in M. smegmatis. We have determined the crystal structure of PBPA at 2.05 Å resolution, the first published structure of a PBP from this important pathogen. Compared to other PBPs, PBPA has a relatively small N-terminal domain and conservation of a cluster of charged residues within this domain suggests that PBPA is more related to Class B PBPs than previously inferred from sequence analysis. The C-terminal domain is a typical transpeptidase fold and contains the three conserved active site motifs that characterize penicillin-interacting enzymes. Whilst the arrangement of the SxxK and KTG motifs is similar to that observed in other PBPs, the SxN motif is markedly displaced away from the active site, such that its serine (Ser281) is not involved in hydrogen bonding with residues of the other two motifs. A disulphide bridge between Cys282 (the “x” of the SxN motif) and Cys266, which resides on an adjacent loop, may be responsible for this unusual conformation. Another interesting feature of the structure is a relatively long connection between β5 and α11, which restricts the space available in the active site of PBPA, and suggests that conformational changes would be required to accommodate peptide substrate or β-lactam antibiotics during acylation. Finally, the structure shows that one of the two threonines postulated to be targets for phosphorylation is inaccessible (Thr362), whereas the other (Thr437) is well placed on a surface loop near the active site.
PMCID: PMC2854034  PMID: 20206184
penicillin-binding proteins; tuberculosis; peptidoglycan; X-ray crystallography

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