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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.
Many pathogenic bacteria utilize the 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway for the biosynthesis of isopentenyl diphosphate and dimethylallyl diphosphate, two major building blocks of isoprenoid compounds. The fifth enzyme in the MEP pathway, 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 2,4-cyclodiphosphate (ME-CPP) synthase (IspF), catalyzes the conversion of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 2-phosphate (CDP-ME2P) to ME-CPP with a corresponding release of cytidine 5-monophosphate (CMP). Since there is no ortholog of IspF in human cells IspF is of interest as a potential drug target. However, study of IspF has been hindered by a lack of enantiopure CDP-ME2P. Herein, we report the first synthesis of enantiomerically pure CDP-ME2P from commercially available D-arabinose. Cloned, expressed, and purified M. tuberculosis IspF was able to utilize the synthetic CDP-ME2P as a substrate, a result confirmed by mass spectrometry. A convenient, sensitive, in vitro IspF assay was developed by coupling the CMP released during production of ME-CPP to mononucleotide kinase, which can be used for high throughput screening.
PMCID: PMC2837070  PMID: 20189102
2.  Crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of 4-­diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-d-erythritol kinase (IspE) from Mycobacterium tuberculosis  
The 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-d-erythritol kinase (IspE) from M. tuberculosis H37Rv was overexpressed in E. coli, purified and crystallized. Diffraction data for the native enzyme were collected to 2.1 Å resolution.
The 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-d-erythritol kinase (IspE) from Mycobacterium tuberculosis, an enzyme from the 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway, is crucial and essential for the survival of this pathogenic bacterium. IspE catalyzes the conversion of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-d-­erythritol (CDP-ME) to 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-d-erythritol 2-phosphate (CDP-ME2P) in an ATP-dependent manner. Solving the crystal structure of M. tuberculosis IspE will shed light on its structural details and mechanism of action and may provide the basis for the future design of drugs for the treatment of multidrug-resistant and extremely drug-resistant M. tuberculosis strains. Recombinant M. tuberculosis IspE was crystallized at 291 K using NaCl or Li2SO4 as a precipitant. A 2.1 Å resolution native data set was collected from a single flash-­cooled crystal (100 K) belonging to space group P212121, with unit-cell parameters a = 52.5, b = 72.3, c = 107.3 Å. One molecule was assumed per asymmetric unit, which gives a Matthews coefficient of 3.4 Å3 Da−1 with 63% solvent content.
PMCID: PMC3144805  PMID: 21795803
Mycobacterium tuberculosis; IspE; drug discovery
3.  A triclinic crystal form of Escherichia coli 4-diphosphocytidyl-2C-methyl-d-erythritol kinase and reassessment of the quaternary structure 
The structure of a triclinic crystal form of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2C-methyl-d-erythritol kinase has been determined. Comparisons with a previously reported monoclinic crystal form raise questions about our knowledge of the quaternary structure of this enzyme.
4-Diphosphocytidyl-2C-methyl-d-erythritol kinase (IspE; EC contributes to the 1-deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate or mevalonate-independent biosynthetic pathway that produces the isomers isopentenyl diphosphate and dimethylallyl diphosphate. These five-carbon compounds are the fundamental building blocks for the biosynthesis of isoprenoids. The mevalonate-independent pathway does not occur in humans, but is present and has been shown to be essential in many dangerous pathogens, i.e. Plasmodium species, which cause malaria, and Gram-negative bacteria. Thus, the enzymes involved in this pathway have attracted attention as potential drug targets. IspE produces 4-­diphosphos­phocytidyl-2C-methyl-d-erythritol 2-phosphate by ATP-dependent phosphorylation of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2C-methyl-d-erythritol. A triclinic crystal structure of the Escherichia coli IspE–ADP complex with two molecules in the asymmetric unit was determined at 2 Å resolution and compared with a monoclinic crystal form of a ternary complex of E. coli IspE also with two molecules in the asymmetric unit. The molecular packing is different in the two forms. In the asymmetric unit of the triclinic crystal form the substrate-binding sites of IspE are occluded by structural elements of the partner, suggesting that the ‘triclinic dimer’ is an artefact of the crystal lattice. The surface area of interaction in the triclinic form is almost double that observed in the monoclinic form, implying that the dimeric assembly in the monoclinic form may also be an artifact of crystallization.
PMCID: PMC2833027  PMID: 20208151
mevalonate-independent pathway; isoprenoid biosynthesis; kinases
4.  Characterization of Aquifex aeolicus 4-diphosphocytidyl-2C-methyl-d-erythritol kinase – ligand recognition in a template for antimicrobial drug discovery 
The Febs Journal  2008;275(11):2779-2794.
4-Diphosphocytidyl-2C-methyl-d-erythritol kinase (IspE) catalyses the ATP-dependent conversion of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2C-methyl-d-erythritol (CDPME) to 4-diphosphocytidyl-2C-methyl-d-erythritol 2-phosphate with the release of ADP. This reaction occurs in the non-mevalonate pathway of isoprenoid precursor biosynthesis and because it is essential in important microbial pathogens and absent from mammals it represents a potential target for anti-infective drugs. We set out to characterize the biochemical properties, determinants of molecular recognition and reactivity of IspE and report the cloning and purification of recombinant Aquifex aeolicus IspE (AaIspE), kinetic data, metal ion, temperature and pH dependence, crystallization and structure determination of the enzyme in complex with CDP, CDPME and ADP. In addition, 4-fluoro-3,5-dihydroxy-4-methylpent-1-enylphosphonic acid (compound 1) was designed to mimic a fragment of the substrate, a synthetic route to 1 was elucidated and the complex structure determined. Surprisingly, this ligand occupies the binding site for the ATP α-phosphate not the binding site for the methyl-d-erythritol moiety of CDPME. Gel filtration and analytical ultracentrifugation indicate that AaIspE is a monomer in solution. The enzyme displays the characteristic α/β galacto-homoserine-mevalonate-phosphomevalonate kinase fold, with the catalytic centre positioned in a deep cleft between the ATP- and CDPME-binding domains. Comparisons indicate a high degree of sequence conservation on the IspE active site across bacterial species, similarities in structure, specificity of substrate recognition and mechanism. The biochemical characterization, attainment of well-ordered and reproducible crystals and the models resulting from the analyses provide reagents and templates to support the structure-based design of broad-spectrum antimicrobial agents.
PMCID: PMC2655357  PMID: 18422643
enzyme–ligand complex; GHMP kinase; isoprenoid biosynthesis; molecular recognition; non-mevalonate pathway
5.  Characterization of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis 4-Diphosphocytidyl-2-C-Methyl-d-Erythritol Synthase: Potential for Drug Development▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;189(24):8922-8927.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis utilizes the methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway for biosynthesis of isopentenyl diphosphate and its isomer, dimethylallyl diphosphate, precursors of all isoprenoid compounds. This pathway is of interest as a source of new drug targets, as it is absent from humans and disruption of the responsible genes has shown a lethal phenotype for Escherichia coli. In the MEP pathway, 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-d-erythritol is formed from 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) and CTP in a reaction catalyzed by a 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-d-erythritol synthase (IspD). In the present work, we demonstrate that Rv3582c is essential for M. tuberculosis: Rv3582c has been cloned and expressed, and the encoded protein has been purified. The purified M. tuberculosis IspD protein was capable of catalyzing the formation of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-d-erythritol in the presence of MEP and CTP. The enzyme was active over a broad pH range (pH 6.0 to 9.0), with peak activity at pH 8.0. The activity was absolutely dependent upon divalent cations, with 20 mM Mg2+ being optimal, and replacement of CTP with other nucleotide 5′-triphosphates did not support activity. Under the conditions tested, M. tuberculosis IspD had Km values of 58.5 μM for MEP and 53.2 μM for CTP. Calculated kcat and kcat/Km values were 0.72 min−1 and 12.3 mM−1 min−1 for MEP and 1.0 min−1 and 18.8 mM−1 min−1 for CTP, respectively.
PMCID: PMC2168624  PMID: 17921290
6.  Expression and characterization of soluble 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol kinase from bacterial pathogens 
Chemistry & biology  2009;16(12):1230-1239.
Many bacterial pathogens utilize the 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate pathway for biosynthesizing isoprenoid precursors, a pathway that is vital for bacterial survival and absent from human cells, providing a potential source of drug targets. However, the characterization of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol (CDP-ME) kinase (IspE) has been hindered due to a lack of enantiopure CDP-ME and difficulty in obtaining pure IspE. Here, enantiopure CDP-ME was chemically synthesized and recombinant IspE from bacterial pathogens were purified and characterized. Although gene disruption was not possible in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, IspE is essential in Mycobacterium smegmatis. The biochemical and kinetic characteristics of IspE provide the basis for development of a high throughput screen and structural characterization.
PMCID: PMC4020808  PMID: 20064433
7.  Crystal structures of IspF from Plasmodium falciparum and Burkholderia cenocepacia: comparisons inform antimicrobial drug target assessment 
2C-methyl-D-erythritol-2,4-cyclodiphosphate synthase (IspF) catalyzes the conversion of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2C-methyl-D-erythritol-2-phosphate to 2C-methyl-D-erythritol-2,4-cyclodiphosphate and cytidine monophosphate in production of isoprenoid-precursors via the methylerythritol phosphate biosynthetic pathway. IspF is found in the protozoan Plasmodium falciparum, a parasite that causes cerebral malaria, as well as in many Gram-negative bacteria such as Burkholderia cenocepacia. IspF represents a potential target for development of broad-spectrum antimicrobial drugs since it is proven or inferred as essential in these pathogens and absent from mammals. Structural studies of IspF from these two important yet distinct pathogens, and comparisons with orthologues have been carried out to generate reagents, to support and inform a structure-based approach to early stage drug discovery.
Efficient recombinant protein production and crystallization protocols were developed, and high-resolution crystal structures of IspF from P. falciparum (Emphasis/Emphasis>IspF) and B. cenocepacia (BcIspF) in complex with cytidine nucleotides determined. Comparisons with orthologues, indicate a high degree of order and conservation in parts of the active site where Zn2+ is bound and where recognition of the cytidine moiety of substrate occurs. However, conformational flexibility is noted in that area of the active site responsible for binding the methylerythritol component of substrate. Unexpectedly, one structure of BcIspF revealed two molecules of cytidine monophosphate in the active site, and another identified citrate coordinating to the catalytic Zn2+. In both cases interactions with ligands appear to help order a flexible loop at one side of the active site. Difficulties were encountered when attempting to derive complex structures with other ligands.
High-resolution crystal structures of IspF from two important human pathogens have been obtained and compared to orthologues. The studies reveal new data on ligand binding, with citrate coordinating to the active site Zn2+ and when present in high concentrations cytidine monophosphate displays two binding modes in the active site. Ligand binding appears to order a part of the active site involved in substrate recognition. The high degree of structural conservation in and around the IspF active site suggests that any structural model might be suitable to support a program of structure-based drug discovery.
PMCID: PMC3927217  PMID: 24410837
Antimicrobial drug target; Isoprenoid biosynthesis; X-ray crystallography; Zn2+-dependent enzyme
8.  Chemoenzymatic synthesis of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol: A substrate for IspE 
Tetrahedron letters  2008;49(29-30):4461-4463.
Enantiomerically pure 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate 1 (MEP) is synthesized from 1,2-O-isopropylidene-α-D-xylofuranose via facile benzylation in good yield. Subsequently, 1 is used for enzymatic synthesis of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 2 (CDP-ME) using 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol synthase (IspD). The chemoenzymatically synthesized 2 can be used as substrate for assay of IspE and for high throughput screening to identify IspE inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC2832204  PMID: 19088853
9.  Absence of Substrate Channeling between Active Sites in the Agrobacterium tumefaciens IspDF and IspE Enzymes of the Methyl Erythritol Phosphate Pathway† 
Biochemistry  2006;45(11):3548-3553.
The conversion of 2C-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) to 2C-methyl-d-erythritol 2,4-cyclodiphosphate (cMEDP) in the MEP entry into the isoprenoid biosynthetic pathway occurs in three consecutive steps catalyzed by the IspD, IspE, and IspF enzymes, respectively. In Agrobacterium tumefaciens the ispD and ispF genes are fused to encode a bifunctional enzyme that catalyzes the first (synthesis of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl d-erythritol) and third (synthesis of 2C-methyl-d-erythritol 2,4-cyclodiphosphate) steps. Sedimentation velocity experiments indicate that the bifunctional IspDF enzyme and the IspE protein associate in solution raising the possibility of substrate channeling among the active sites in these two proteins. Kinetic evidence for substrate channeling was sought by measuring the time courses for product formation during incubations of MEP, CTP, and ATP with the IspDF and IspE proteins with and without an excess of the inactive IspE (D152A) mutant in presence or absence of 30% (v/v) glycerol. The time dependencies indicate that the enzyme-generated intermediates are not transferred from the IspD active site in IspDF to the active site of IspE or from the active site in IspE to the active site in the IspF module of IspDF.
PMCID: PMC2516919  PMID: 16533036
bifunctional; IspDF; IspE; non-channeling
10.  2C-Methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate enhances and sustains cyclodiphosphate synthase IspF activity 
ACS chemical biology  2012;7(10):1702-1710.
There is significant progress toward understanding catalysis throughout the essential MEP pathway to isoprenoids in human pathogens; however, little is known about pathway regulation. The present study begins by testing the hypothesis that isoprenoid biosynthesis is regulated via feedback inhibition of the fifth enzyme cyclodiphosphate IspF by downstream isoprenoid diphosphates. Here, we demonstrate recombinant E. coli IspF is not inhibited by downstream metabolites and isopentenyl diphosphate (IDP), dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMADP), geranyl diphosphate (GDP) and farnesyl diphosphate (FDP) under standard assay conditions. However, 2C-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP), the product of reductoisomerase IspC and first committed MEP pathway intermediate, activates and sustains this enhanced IspF activity, and the IspF-MEP complex is inhibited by FDP. We further show that the methylerythritol scaffold itself, which is unique to this pathway, drives the activation and stabilization of active IspF. Our results suggest a novel feed-forward regulatory mechanism for 2Cmethyl-d-erythritol 2,4-cyclodiphosphate (MEcDP) production and support an isoprenoid biosynthesis regulatory mechanism via feedback inhibition of the IspF-MEP complex by FDP. The results have important implications for development of inhibitors against the IspF-MEP complex, which may be the physiologically relevant form of the enzyme.
PMCID: PMC3477264  PMID: 22839733
cyclodiphosphate synthase; IspF; methylerythritol phosphate; MEP pathway regulation
11.  IspE Inhibitors Identified by a Combination of In Silico and In Vitro High-Throughput Screening 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e35792.
CDP-ME kinase (IspE) contributes to the non-mevalonate or deoxy-xylulose phosphate (DOXP) pathway for isoprenoid precursor biosynthesis found in many species of bacteria and apicomplexan parasites. IspE has been shown to be essential by genetic methods and since it is absent from humans it constitutes a promising target for antimicrobial drug development. Using in silico screening directed against the substrate binding site and in vitro high-throughput screening directed against both, the substrate and co-factor binding sites, non-substrate-like IspE inhibitors have been discovered and structure-activity relationships were derived. The best inhibitors in each series have high ligand efficiencies and favourable physico-chemical properties rendering them promising starting points for drug discovery. Putative binding modes of the ligands were suggested which are consistent with established structure-activity relationships. The applied screening methods were complementary in discovering hit compounds, and a comparison of both approaches highlights their strengths and weaknesses. It is noteworthy that compounds identified by virtual screening methods provided the controls for the biochemical screens.
PMCID: PMC3340893  PMID: 22563402
12.  Formal Synthesis of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl D-erythritol From D-(+)-Arabitol 
Tetrahedron  2012;68(43):8937-8941.
2-C-methyl-D-erythritol-4-phosphate (MEP) is a key chemical intermediate of the non-mevalonate pathway for isoprenoid biosynthesis employed by many pathogenic microbes. MEP is also the precursor for the synthesis of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl D-erythritol (CDP-ME), another key intermediate of the non-mevalonate pathway. As this pathway is non-existent in higher animals, including humans, it represents great opportunities for novel antimicrobial development. To facilitate the in-depth studies of this pathway, we reported here a formal synthesis of CDP-ME through a new synthesis of 2-C-Methyl-D-erythritol-4-phosphoric acid from D-(+)-arabitol.
PMCID: PMC3462025  PMID: 23049145
MEP; CDP-ME; selective phosphorylation; dioxanone; monophosphate
13.  A Structure-Based Approach to Ligand Discovery for 2C-Methyl-d-erythritol-2,4-cyclodiphosphate Synthase: A Target for Antimicrobial Therapy† 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2009;52(8):2531-2542.
The nonmevalonate route to isoprenoid biosynthesis is essential in Gram-negative bacteria and apicomplexan parasites. The enzymes of this pathway are absent from mammals, contributing to their appeal as chemotherapeutic targets. One enzyme, 2C-methyl-d-erythritol-2,4-cyclodiphosphate synthase (IspF), has been validated as a target by genetic approaches in bacteria. Virtual screening against Escherichia coli IspF (EcIspF) was performed by combining a hierarchical filtering methodology with molecular docking. Docked compounds were inspected and 10 selected for experimental validation. A surface plasmon resonance assay was developed and two weak ligands identified. Crystal structures of EcIspF complexes were determined to support rational ligand development. Cytosine analogues and Zn2+-binding moieties were characterized. One of the putative Zn2+-binding compounds gave the lowest measured KD to date (1.92 ± 0.18 μM). These data provide a framework for the development of IspF inhibitors to generate lead compounds of therapeutic potential against microbial pathogens.
PMCID: PMC2669732  PMID: 19320487
14.  Probing phosphorylation by non-mammalian isoprenoid biosynthetic enzymes using 1H–31P–31P correlation NMR spectroscopy†‡ 
Molecular bioSystems  2009;5(9):935-944.
The biogenesis of isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl pyrophosphate (DMAPP) is accomplished by the methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway in plants, bacteria and parasites, making it a potential target for the development of anti-infective agents and herbicides. The biosynthetic enzymes comprising this pathway catalyze intriguing chemical transformations on diphosphate scaffolds, offering an opportunity to generate novel analogs in this synthetically challenging compound class. Such a biosynthetic approach to generating new diphosphate analogs may involve transformation through discrete diphosphate species, presenting unique challenges in structure determination and characterization of unnatural enzyme-generated diphosphate products produced in tandem. We have developed 1H–31P–31P correlation NMR spectroscopy techniques for the direct characterization of crude MEP pathway enzyme products at low concentrations (200 μM to 5 mM) on a room temperature (non-cryogenic) NMR probe. Coupling the 100% natural abundance of the 31P nucleus with the high intrinsic sensitivity of proton NMR, 1H–31P–31P correlation spectroscopy is particularly useful for characterization of unnatural diphosphate enzyme products in the MEP pathway. As proof of principle, we demonstrate the rapid characterization of natural enzyme products of the enzymes IspD, E and F in tandem enzyme incubations. In addition, we have characterized several unnatural enzyme products using this technique, including new products of cytidyltransferase IspD bearing erythritol, glycerol and ribose components. The results of this study indicate that IspD may be a useful biocatalyst and highlight 1H–31P–31P correlation spectroscopy as a valuable tool for the characterization of other unnatural products in non-mammalian isoprenoid biosynthesis.
PMCID: PMC3161243  PMID: 19668858
15.  Lethal Mutations in the Isoprenoid Pathway of Salmonella enterica 
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(4):1444-1450.
Essential isoprenoid compounds are synthesized using the 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway in many gram-negative bacteria, some gram-positive bacteria, some apicomplexan parasites, and plant chloroplasts. The alternative mevalonate pathway is found in archaea and eukaryotes, including cytosolic biosynthesis in plants. The existence of orthogonal essential pathways in eukaryotes and bacteria makes the MEP pathway an attractive target for the development of antimicrobial agents. A system is described for identifying mutations in the MEP pathway of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. Using this system, point mutations induced by diethyl sulfate were found in the all genes of the essential MEP pathway and also in genes involved in uptake of methylerythritol. Curiously, none of the MEP pathway genes could be identified in the same parent strain by transposon mutagenesis, despite extensive searches. The results complement the biochemical and bioinformatic approaches to the elucidation of the genes involved in the MEP pathway and also identify key residues for activity in the enzymes of the pathway.
PMCID: PMC1367239  PMID: 16452427
16.  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.
PMCID: PMC3421842  PMID: 22777049
17.  The structure of Mycobacteria 2C-methyl-D-erythritol-2,4-cyclodiphosphate synthase, an essential enzyme, provides a platform for drug discovery 
The prevalence of tuberculosis, the prolonged and expensive treatment that this disease requires and an increase in drug resistance indicate an urgent need for new treatments. The 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate pathway of isoprenoid precursor biosynthesis is an attractive chemotherapeutic target because it occurs in many pathogens, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and is absent from humans. To underpin future drug development it is important to assess which enzymes in this biosynthetic pathway are essential in the actual pathogens and to characterize them.
The fifth enzyme of this pathway, encoded by ispF, is 2C-methyl-D-erythritol-2,4-cyclodiphosphate synthase (IspF). A two-step recombination strategy was used to construct ispF deletion mutants in M. tuberculosis but only wild-type double crossover strains were isolated. The chromosomal copy could be deleted when a second functional copy was provided on an integrating plasmid, demonstrating that ispF is an essential gene under the conditions tested thereby confirming its potential as a drug target. We attempted structure determination of the M. tuberculosis enzyme (MtIspF), but failed to obtain crystals. We instead analyzed the orthologue M. smegmatis IspF (MsIspF), sharing 73% amino acid sequence identity, at 2.2 Å resolution. The high level of sequence conservation is particularly pronounced in and around the active site. MsIspF is a trimer with a hydrophobic cavity at its center that contains density consistent with diphosphate-containing isoprenoids. The active site, created by two subunits, comprises a rigid CDP-Zn2+ binding pocket with a flexible loop to position the 2C-methyl-D-erythritol moiety of substrate. Sequence-structure comparisons indicate that the active site and interactions with ligands are highly conserved.
Our study genetically validates MtIspF as a therapeutic target and provides a model system for structure-based ligand design.
PMCID: PMC2151065  PMID: 17956607
18.  Reconstruction and Evaluation of the Synthetic Bacterial MEP Pathway in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52498.
Isoprenoids, which are a large group of natural and chemical compounds with a variety of applications as e.g. fragrances, pharmaceuticals and potential biofuels, are produced via two different metabolic pathways, the mevalonate (MVA) pathway and the 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway. Here, we attempted to replace the endogenous MVA pathway in Saccharomyces cerevisiae by a synthetic bacterial MEP pathway integrated into the genome to benefit from its superior properties in terms of energy consumption and productivity at defined growth conditions. It was shown that the growth of a MVA pathway deficient S. cerevisiae strain could not be restored by the heterologous MEP pathway even when accompanied by the co-expression of genes erpA, hISCA1 and CpIscA involved in the Fe-S trafficking routes leading to maturation of IspG and IspH and E. coli genes fldA and fpr encoding flavodoxin and flavodoxin reductase believed to be responsible for electron transfer to IspG and IspH.
PMCID: PMC3532213  PMID: 23285068
19.  Cytidine derivatives as IspF inhibitors of Burkolderia pseudomallei 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters  2013;23(24):10.1016/j.bmcl.2013.09.101.
Published biological data suggest that the methyl erythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway, a non-mevalonate isoprenoid biosynthetic pathway, is essential for certain bacteria and other infectious disease organisms. One highly conserved enzyme in the MEP pathway is 2C-methyl-D-erythritol 2,4-cyclodiphosphate synthase (IspF). Fragment-bound complexes of IspF from Burkholderia pseudomallei were used to design and synthesize a series of molecules linking the cytidine moiety to different zinc pocket fragment binders. Testing by surface plasmon resonance (SPR) found one molecule in the series to possess binding affinity equal to that of cytidine diphosphate, despite lacking any metal-coordinating phosphate groups. Close inspection of the SPR data suggest different binding stoichiometries between IspF and test compounds. Crystallographic analysis shows important variations between the binding mode of one synthesized compound and the pose of the bound fragment from which it was designed. The binding modes of these molecules add to our structural knowledge base for IspF and suggest future refinements in this compound series.
PMCID: PMC3874807  PMID: 24157367
Fragment screening; MEP pathway; IspF; Non-mevalonate; Anti-infective; SPR
20.  MEP pathway-mediated isopentenol production in metabolically engineered Escherichia coli 
Microbial Cell Factories  2014;13(1):135.
Isopentenols, such as prenol and isoprenol, are promising advanced biofuels because of their higher energy densities and better combustion efficiencies compared with ethanol. Microbial production of isopentenols has been developed recently via metabolically engineered E. coli. However, current yields remain low and the underlying pathways require systematic optimization.
In this study, we targeted the E. coli native 2-methyl-(D)-erythritol-4-phosphate (MEP) pathway and its upstream glycolysis pathway for the optimization of isopentenol production. Two codon optimized genes, nudF and yhfR from Bacillus subtilis, were synthesized and expressed in E. coli W3110 to confer the isopentenol production of the strain. Two key enzymes (IspG and Dxs) were then overexpressed to optimize the E. coli native MEP pathway, which led to a significant increase (3.3-fold) in isopentenol production. Subsequently, the glycolysis pathway was tuned to enhance the precursor and NADPH supplies for the MEP pathway by activating the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) and Entner-Doudoroff pathway (ED), which resulted in additional 1.9 folds of increase in isopentenol production. A 5 L-scale batch cultivation experiment was finally implemented, showing a total of 61.9 mg L−1 isopentenol production from 20 g L−1 of glucose.
The isopentenol production was successfully increased through multi-step optimization of the MEP and its upstream glycolysis pathways. It demonstrated that the total fluxes and their balance of the precursors of the MEP pathway are of critical importance in isopentenol production. In the future, an elucidation of the contribution of PPP and ED to MEP is needed for further optimization of isopentenol production.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12934-014-0135-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4172795  PMID: 25212876
Isopentenol; MEP pathway; Entner-Doudoroff pathway; Pentose phosphate pathway (PPP); Escherichia coli; Metabolic engineering
21.  Synthesis and Antibacterial Evaluation of (S,Z)-4-methyl-2-(4-oxo-5-((5-substituted phenylfuran-2-yl) methylene)-2-thioxothiazolidin-3-yl)Pentanoic Acids 
The microbial resistance has become a global hazard with the irrational use of antibiotics. Infection of drug-resistant bacteria seriously threatens human health. Currently, there is an urgent need for the development of novel antimicrobial agents with new mechanisms and lower levels of toxicity. In this paper, a series of (S,Z)-4-methyl-2-(4-oxo-5-((5-substitutedphenylfuran-2-yl) methylene)-2-thioxothiazolidin-3-yl)pentanoic acids via a Knoevenagel condensation were synthesized and evaluated for their antibacterial activity in-vitro. The synthesized compounds were characterized by IR, 1H NMR and MS. The antibacterial test in-vitro showed that all of the synthesized compounds had good antibacterial activity against several Gram-positive bacteria (including multidrug-resistant clinical isolates) with minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) values in the range of 2–4 µg/mL. Especially compounds 4c, 4d, 4e and 4f were the most potent, with MIC values of 2 µg/mL against four multidrug-resistant Gram-positive bacterial strains.
PMCID: PMC4277622  PMID: 25561915
Furan; Pentanoic acid; Antibacterial activity; Cytotoxicity; MRSA; QRSA
22.  Bifunctional CTP:Inositol-1-Phosphate Cytidylyltransferase/CDP-Inositol:Inositol-1-Phosphate Transferase, the Key Enzyme for Di-myo-Inositol-Phosphate Synthesis in Several (Hyper)thermophiles▿ †  
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;189(15):5405-5412.
The pathway for the synthesis of di-myo-inositol-phosphate (DIP) was recently elucidated on the basis of the detection of the relevant activities in cell extracts of Archaeoglobus fulgidus and structural characterization of products by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) (N. Borges, L. G. Gonçalves, M. V. Rodrigues, F. Siopa, R. Ventura, C. Maycock, P. Lamosa, and H. Santos, J. Bacteriol. 188:8128-8135, 2006). Here, a genomic approach was used to identify the genes involved in the synthesis of DIP. Cloning and expression in Escherichia coli of the putative genes for CTP:l-myo-inositol-1-phosphate cytidylyltransferase and DIPP (di-myo-inositol-1,3′-phosphate-1′-phosphate, a phosphorylated form of DIP) synthase from several (hyper)thermophiles (A. fulgidus, Pyrococcus furiosus, Thermococcus kodakaraensis, Aquifex aeolicus, and Rubrobacter xylanophilus) confirmed the presence of those activities in the gene products. The DIPP synthase activity was part of a bifunctional enzyme that catalyzed the condensation of CTP and l-myo-inositol-1-phosphate into CDP-l-myo-inositol, as well as the synthesis of DIPP from CDP-l-myo-inositol and l-myo-inositol-1-phosphate. The cytidylyltransferase was absolutely specific for CTP and l-myo-inositol-1-P; the DIPP synthase domain used only l-myo-inositol-1-phosphate as an alcohol acceptor, but CDP-glycerol, as well as CDP-l-myo-inositol and CDP-d-myo-inositol, were recognized as alcohol donors. Genome analysis showed homologous genes in all organisms known to accumulate DIP and for which genome sequences were available. In most cases, the two activities (l-myo-inositol-1-P cytidylyltransferase and DIPP synthase) were fused in a single gene product, but separate genes were predicted in Aeropyrum pernix, Thermotoga maritima, and Hyperthermus butylicus. Additionally, using l-myo-inositol-1-phosphate labeled on C-1 with carbon 13, the stereochemical configuration of all the metabolites involved in DIP synthesis was established by NMR analysis. The two inositol moieties in DIP had different stereochemical configurations, in contradiction of previous reports. The use of the designation di-myo-inositol-1,3′-phosphate is recommended to facilitate tracing individual carbon atoms through metabolic pathways.
PMCID: PMC1951816  PMID: 17526717
23.  Kinetic Characterization and Allosteric Inhibition of the Yersinia pestis 1-Deoxy-D-Xylulose 5-Phosphate Reductoisomerase (MEP Synthase) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e106243.
The methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway found in many bacteria governs the synthesis of isoprenoids, which are crucial lipid precursors for vital cell components such as ubiquinone. Because mammals synthesize isoprenoids via an alternate pathway, the bacterial MEP pathway is an attractive target for novel antibiotic development, necessitated by emerging antibiotic resistance as well as biodefense concerns. The first committed step in the MEP pathway is the reduction and isomerization of 1-deoxy-D-xylulose-5-phosphate (DXP) to methylerythritol phosphate (MEP), catalyzed by MEP synthase. To facilitate drug development, we cloned, expressed, purified, and characterized MEP synthase from Yersinia pestis. Enzyme assays indicate apparent kinetic constants of KMDXP = 252 µM and KMNADPH = 13 µM, IC50 values for fosmidomycin and FR900098 of 710 nM and 231 nM respectively, and Ki values for fosmidomycin and FR900098 of 251 nM and 101 nM respectively. To ascertain if the Y. pestis MEP synthase was amenable to a high-throughput screening campaign, the Z-factor was determined (0.9) then the purified enzyme was screened against a pilot scale library containing rationally designed fosmidomycin analogs and natural product extracts. Several hit molecules were obtained, most notably a natural product allosteric affector of MEP synthase and a rationally designed bisubstrate derivative of FR900098 (able to associate with both the NADPH and DXP binding sites in MEP synthase). It is particularly noteworthy that allosteric regulation of MEP synthase has not been described previously. Thus, our discovery implicates an alternative site (and new chemical space) for rational drug development.
PMCID: PMC4149570  PMID: 25171339
24.  Inhibition of IspH, a [4Fe-4S]2+ enzyme involved in the biosynthesis of isoprenoids via the MEP pathway 
The MEP pathway, which is absent in animals but present in most pathogenic bacteria, in the parasite responsible for malaria and in plant plastids, is a target for the development of antimicrobial drugs. IspH, an oxygen-sensitive [4Fe-4S] enzyme, catalyzes the last step of this pathway and converts (E)-4-hydroxy-2-methylbut-2-enyl 1-diphosphate (HMBPP) into the two isoprenoid precursors: isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). A crucial step in the mechanism of this enzyme is the binding of the C4 hydroxyl of HMBPP to the unique fourth iron site in the [4Fe-4S]2+ moiety. Here we report the synthesis and the kinetic investigations of two new extremely potent inhibitors of E. coli IspH where the OH group of HMBPP is replaced by an amino and a thiol group. (E)-4-Mercapto-3-methyl-but-2-en-1-yl diphosphate is a reversible tight-binding inhibitor of IspH with Ki = 20 ± 2 nM. A detailed kinetic analysis revealed that (E)-4-amino-3-methylbut-2-en-1-yl diphosphate is a reversible slow-binding inhibitor of IspH with Ki = 54 ± 19 nM. The slow binding behavior of this inhibitor is best described by a one-step mechanism with the slow step consisting in the formation of the enzyme-inhibitor (EI) complex.
PMCID: PMC3644560  PMID: 23316732
25.  Regulation of CDP-diacylglycerol synthesis and utilization by inositol and choline in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1992;174(17):5711-5718.
CDP-diacylglycerol (CDP-DG) is an important branchpoint intermediate in eucaryotic phospholipid biosynthesis and could be a key regulatory site in phospholipid metabolism. Therefore, we examined the effects of growth phase, phospholipid precursors, and the disruption of phosphatidylcholine (PC) synthesis on the membrane-associated phospholipid biosynthetic enzymes CDP-DG synthase, phosphatidylglycerolphosphate (PGP) synthase, phosphatidylinositol (PI) synthase, and phosphatidylserine (PS) synthase in cell extracts of the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. In complete synthetic medium containing inositol, maximal expression of CDP-DG synthase, PGP synthase, PI synthase, and PS synthase in wild-type cells occurred in the exponential phase of growth and decreased two- to fourfold in the stationary phase of growth. In cells starved for inositol, this decrease in PGP synthase, PI synthase, and PS synthase expression was not observed. Starvation for inositol resulted in a twofold derepression of PGP synthase and PS synthase expression, while PI synthase expression decreased initially and then remained constant. Upon the addition of inositol to inositol-starved cells, there was a rapid and continued increase in PI synthase expression. We examined expression of these enzymes in cho2 and cho1 mutants, which are blocked in the methylation pathway for synthesis of PC. Choline starvation resulted in a decrease in PS synthase and CDP-DG synthase expression in cho1 but not cho2 cells. Expression of PGP synthase and PI synthase was not affected by choline starvation. Inositol starvation resulted in a 1.7-fold derepression of PGP synthase expression in cho2 but not cho1 cells when PC was synthesized. PS synthase expression was not depressed, while CDP-DG synthase and PI synthase expression decreased in cho2 and cho1 cells in the absence of inositol. These results demonstrate that (i) CDP-DG synthase, PGP synthase, PI synthase, and PS synthase are similarly regulated by growth phase; (ii) inositol affects the expression of PGP synthase, PI synthase, and PS synthase; (iii) disruption of the methylation pathway results in aberrant patterns of regulation of growth phase and phospholipid precursors. Important differences between S. pombe and Saccharomyces cerevisiae with regard to regulation of these enzymes are discussed.
PMCID: PMC206519  PMID: 1324908

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