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.
Type 2 isopentenyl diphosphate isomerase catalyzes the interconversion between two active units for isoprenoid biosynthesis, i.e., isopentenyl diphosphate and dimethylallyl diphosphate, in almost all archaea and in some bacteria, including human pathogens. The enzyme is a good target for discovery of antibiotics because it is essential for the organisms that use only the mevalonate pathway to produce the active isoprene units and because humans possess a nonhomologous isozyme, type 1 isopentenyl diphosphate isomerase. However, type 2 enzymes were reportedly inhibited by mechanism-based drugs for the type 1 enzyme due to their surprisingly similar reaction mechanisms. Thus, a different approach is now required to develop new inhibitors specific to the type 2 enzyme. X-ray crystallography and gel filtration chromatography revealed that the enzyme from a thermoacidophilic archaeon, Sulfolobus shibatae, is in the octameric state at a high concentration. Interestingly, a part of the regions that are involved in the substrate binding in the previously reported tetrameric structures is integral to the formation of the tetramer-tetramer interface in the substrate-free octameric structure. Site-directed mutagenesis at such regions resulted in stabilization of the tetramer. Small-angle X-ray scattering, tryptophan fluorescence, and dynamic light scattering analyses showed that substrate binding causes the dissociation of an octamer into tetramers. This property, i.e., incompatibility between octamer formation and substrate binding, might provide clues to develop new specific inhibitors of the archaeal enzyme.
Survival of the human pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae requires a functional mevalonate pathway, which produces isopentenyl diphosphate, the essential building block of isoprenoids. Flux through this pathway appears to be regulated at the mevalonate kinase (MK) step, which is strongly feedback-inhibited by diphosphomevalonate (DPM), the penultimate compound in the pathway. The human mevalonate pathway is not regulated by DPM, making the bacterial pathway an attractive antibiotic target. Since DPM has poor drug characteristics, being highly charged, we propose to use unphosphorylated, cell-permeable prodrugs based on mevalonate that will be phosphorylated in turn by MK and phosphomevalonate kinase (PMK) to generate the active compound in situ. To test the limits of this approach, we synthesized a series of C3-substituted mevalonate analogues to probe the steric and electronic requirements of the MK and PMK active sites. MK and PMK accepted substrates with up to two additional carbons, showing a preference for small substitutents. This result establishes the feasibility of using a prodrug strategy for DPM-based antibiotics in S. pneumoniae and identified several analogues to be tested as inhibitors of MK. Among the substrates accepted by both enzymes were cyclopropyl, vinyl, and ethynyl mevalonate analogues that, when diphosphorylated, might be mechanism-based inactivators of the next enzyme in the pathway, diphosphomevalonate decarboxylase.
Isoprenoid pathway; mevalonic acid; phosphomevalonic acid; diphosphomevalonic acid; mevalonate kinase; phosphomevalonate kinase; diphosphomevalonate decarboxylase; prodrug
Many bacteria employ the nonmevalonate pathway for synthesis of isopentenyl diphosphate, the monomer unit for isoprenoid biosynthesis. However, gram-positive cocci exclusively use the mevalonate pathway, which is essential for their growth (E. I. Wilding et al., J. Bacteriol. 182:4319-4327, 2000). Enzymes of the mevalonate pathway are thus potential targets for drug intervention. Uniquely, the enterococci possess a single open reading frame, mvaE, that appears to encode two enzymes of the mevalonate pathway, acetoacetyl-coenzyme A thiolase and 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase. Western blotting revealed that the mvaE gene product is a single polypeptide in Enterococcus faecalis, Enterococcus faecium, and Enterococcus hirae. The mvaE gene was cloned from E. faecalis and was expressed with an N-terminal His tag in Escherichia coli. The gene product was then purified by nickel affinity chromatography. As predicted, the 86.5-kDa mvaE gene product catalyzed both the acetoacetyl-CoA thiolase and HMG-CoA reductase reactions. Temperature optima, ΔHa and Km values, and pH optima were determined for both activities. Kinetic studies of acetoacetyl-CoA thiolase implicated a ping-pong mechanism. CoA acted as an inhibitor competitive with acetyl-CoA. A millimolar Ki for a statin drug confirmed that E. faecalis HMG-CoA reductase is a class II enzyme. The oxidoreductant was NADP(H). A role for an active-site histidine during the first redox step of the HMG-CoA, reductase reaction was suggested by the ability of diethylpyrocarbonate to block formation of mevalonate from HMG-CoA, but not from mevaldehyde. Sequence comparisons with other HMG-CoA reductases suggest that the essential active-site histidine is His756. The mvaE gene product represents the first example of an HMG-CoA reductase fused to another enzyme.
Isoprenoids are a diverse group of molecules found in all organisms, where they perform such important biological functions as hormone signaling (e.g., steroids) in mammals, antioxidation (e.g., carotenoids) in plants, electron transport (e.g., ubiquinone), and cell wall biosynthesis intermediates in bacteria. All isoprenoids are synthesized by the consecutive condensation of the five-carbon monomer isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) to its isomer, dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). The biosynthetic pathway for the formation of IPP from acetyl-CoA (i.e., the mevalonate pathway) had been established mainly in mice and the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Curiously, most prokaryotic microorganisms lack homologs of the genes in the mevalonate pathway, even though IPP and DMAPP are essential for isoprenoid biosynthesis in bacteria. This observation provided an impetus to search for an alternative pathway to synthesize IPP and DMAPP, ultimately leading to the discovery of the mevalonate-independent 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate pathway. This review article focuses on our significant contributions to a comprehensive understanding of the biosynthesis of IPP and DMAPP.
biosynthesis; inhibitor; isoprenoid; MEP pathway; mevalonate pathway; terpenoid
Biosynthesis of the isoprenoid precursor isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) proceeds via two distinct pathways. Sequence comparisons and microbiological data suggest that multidrug-resistant strains of gram-positive cocci employ exclusively the mevalonate pathway for IPP biosynthesis. Bacterial mevalonate pathway enzymes therefore offer potential targets for development of active site-directed inhibitors for use as antibiotics. We used the PCR and Enterococcus faecalis genomic DNA to isolate the mvaS gene that encodes 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) synthase, the second enzyme of the mevalonate pathway. mvaS was expressed in Escherichia coli from a pET28 vector with an attached N-terminal histidine tag. The expressed enzyme was purified by affinity chromatography on Ni2+-agarose to apparent homogeneity and a specific activity of 10 μmol/min/mg. Analytical ultracentrifugation showed that the enzyme is a dimer (mass, 83.9 kDa; s20,w, 5.3). Optimal activity occurred in 2.0 mM MgCl2 at 37oC. The ΔHa was 6,000 cal. The pH activity profile, optimum activity at pH 9.8, yielded a pKa of 8.8 for a dissociating group, presumably Glu78. The stoichiometry per monomer of acetyl-CoA binding was 1.2 ± 0.2 and that of covalent acetylation was 0.60 ± 0.02. The Km for the hydrolysis of acetyl-CoA was 10 μM. Coupled conversion of acetyl-CoA to mevalonate was demonstrated by using HMG-CoA synthase and acetoacetyl-CoA thiolase/HMG-CoA reductase from E. faecalis.
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.
Expression of a bacterial transporter protein in Toxoplasma gondii results in parasite susceptibility to Formidomycin, a drug targeting isoprenoid precursor synthesis.
Apicomplexa are important pathogens that include the causative agents of malaria, toxoplasmosis, and cryptosporidiosis. Apicomplexan parasites contain a relict chloroplast, the apicoplast. The apicoplast is indispensable and an attractive drug target. The apicoplast is home to a 1-deoxy-d-xylulose-5-phosphate (DOXP) pathway for the synthesis of isoprenoid precursors. This pathway is believed to be the most conserved function of the apicoplast, and fosmidomycin, a specific inhibitor of the pathway, is an effective antimalarial. Surprisingly, fosmidomycin has no effect on most other apicomplexans. Using Toxoplasma gondii, we establish that the pathway is essential in parasites that are highly fosmidomycin resistant. We define the molecular basis of resistance and susceptibility, experimentally testing various host and parasite contributions in T. gondii and Plasmodium. We demonstrate that in T. gondii the parasite plasma membrane is a critical barrier to drug uptake. In strong support of this hypothesis, we engineer de novo drug-sensitive T. gondii parasites by heterologous expression of a bacterial transporter protein. Mice infected with these transgenic parasites can now be cured from a lethal challenge with fosmidomycin. We propose that the varied extent of metabolite exchange between host and parasite is a crucial determinator of drug susceptibility and a predictor of future resistance.
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 22.214.171.124) 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.
mevalonate-independent pathway; isoprenoid biosynthesis; kinases
Antimicrobial drug resistance is an urgent problem in control and treatment of many of the world's most serious infections, including Plasmodium falciparum malaria, tuberculosis, and healthcare-associated infections with Gram-negative bacteria. Because the non-mevalonate pathway of isoprenoid biosynthesis is essential in eubacteria and P. falciparum, and this pathway is not present in humans, there is great interest in targeting the enzymes of non-mevalonate metabolism for antibacterial and antiparasitic drug development. Fosmidomycin is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent currently in clinical trials of combination therapies to treat malaria. In vitro, fosmidomycin is known to inhibit the deoxyxylulose phosphate reductoisomerase (DXR) enzyme of isoprenoid biosynthesis from multiple pathogenic organisms. To define the in vivo metabolic response to fosmidomycin, we developed a novel mass spectrometry method to quantitate six metabolites of non-mevalonate isoprenoid metabolism from complex biological samples. Using this technique, we validate that the biological effects of fosmidomycin are mediated through blockade of de novo isoprenoid biosynthesis in both P. falciparum malaria parasites and E. coli bacteria: in both organisms, metabolic profiling demonstrated a block in isoprenoid metabolism following fosmidomycin treatment, and growth inhibition due to fosmidomycin was rescued by media supplemented with isoprenoid metabolites. Isoprenoid metabolism proceeded through DXR even in the presence of fosmidomycin, but was inhibited at the level of the downstream enzyme, methylerythritol phosphate cytidyltransferase (IspD). Overexpression of IspD in E. coli conferred fosmidomycin resistance, and fosmidomycin was found to inhibit IspD in vitro. This work has validated fosmidomycin as a biological reagent to block non-mevalonate isoprenoid metabolism, and suggests a second in vivo target for fosmidomycin within isoprenoid biosynthesis, in two evolutionarily diverse pathogens.
The role of peroxisomes in isoprenoid metabolism, especially in plants, has been questioned in several reports. A recent study of Sapir-Mir et al.1 revealed that the two isoforms of isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) isomerase, catalyzing the isomerisation of IPP to dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP) are found in the peroxisome. In this addendum, we provide additional data describing the peroxisomal localization of 5-phosphomevalonate kinase and mevalonate 5-diphosphate decarboxylase, the last two enzymes of the mevalonic acid pathway leading to IPP.2 This finding was reinforced in our latest report showing that a short isoform of farnesyl diphosphate, using IPP and DMAPP as substrates, is also targeted to the organelle.3 Therefore, the classical sequestration of isoprenoid biosynthesis between plastids and cytosol/ER can be revisited by including the peroxisome as an additional isoprenoid biosynthetic compartment within plant cells.
5-phosphomevalonate kinase; Arabidopsis thaliana; Catharanthus roseus; farnesyl diphosphate synthase; isoprenoid; mevalonate 5-diphosphate decarboxylase; mevalonic acid pathway; peroxisome
The only essential function of a unique plastid organelle, the apicoplast, in blood-stage P. falciparum is the production of isoprenoid precursors.
Plasmodium spp parasites harbor an unusual plastid organelle called the apicoplast. Due to its prokaryotic origin and essential function, the apicoplast is a key target for development of new anti-malarials. Over 500 proteins are predicted to localize to this organelle and several prokaryotic biochemical pathways have been annotated, yet the essential role of the apicoplast during human infection remains a mystery. Previous work showed that treatment with fosmidomycin, an inhibitor of non-mevalonate isoprenoid precursor biosynthesis in the apicoplast, inhibits the growth of blood-stage P. falciparum. Herein, we demonstrate that fosmidomycin inhibition can be chemically rescued by supplementation with isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP), the pathway product. Surprisingly, IPP supplementation also completely reverses death following treatment with antibiotics that cause loss of the apicoplast. We show that antibiotic-treated parasites rescued with IPP over multiple cycles specifically lose their apicoplast genome and fail to process or localize organelle proteins, rendering them functionally apicoplast-minus. Despite the loss of this essential organelle, these apicoplast-minus auxotrophs can be grown indefinitely in asexual blood stage culture but are entirely dependent on exogenous IPP for survival. These findings indicate that isoprenoid precursor biosynthesis is the only essential function of the apicoplast during blood-stage growth. Moreover, apicoplast-minus P. falciparum strains will be a powerful tool for further investigation of apicoplast biology as well as drug and vaccine development.
Malaria caused by Plasmodium spp parasites is a profound human health problem that has shaped our evolutionary past and continues to influence modern day with a disease burden that disproportionately affects the world's poorest and youngest. New anti-malarials are desperately needed in the face of existing or emerging drug resistance to available therapies, while an effective vaccine remains elusive. A plastid organelle, the apicoplast, has been hailed as Plasmodium's “Achilles' heel” because it contains bacteria-derived pathways that have no counterpart in the human host and therefore may be ideal drug targets. However, more than a decade after its discovery, the essential functions of the apicoplast remain a mystery, and without a specific pathway or function to target, development of drugs against the apicoplast has been stymied. In this study, we use a simple chemical method to generate parasites that have lost their apicoplast, normally a deadly event, but which survive—“rescued” by the addition of an essential metabolite to the culture. This chemical rescue demonstrates that the apicoplast serves only a single essential function, namely isoprenoid precursor biosynthesis during blood-stage growth, validating this metabolic function as a viable drug target. Moreover, the apicoplast-minus Plasmodium strains generated in this study will be a powerful tool for identifying apicoplast-targeted drugs and as a potential vaccine strain with significant advantages over current vaccine technologies.
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.
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.
The mevalonate pathway and the glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate (GAP)–pyruvate pathway are alternative routes for the biosynthesis of the central isoprenoid precursor, isopentenyl diphosphate. Genomic analysis revealed that the staphylococci, streptococci, and enterococci possess genes predicted to encode all of the enzymes of the mevalonate pathway and not the GAP-pyruvate pathway, unlike Bacillus subtilis and most gram-negative bacteria studied, which possess only components of the latter pathway. Phylogenetic and comparative genome analyses suggest that the genes for mevalonate biosynthesis in gram-positive cocci, which are highly divergent from those of mammals, were horizontally transferred from a primitive eukaryotic cell. Enterococci uniquely encode a bifunctional protein predicted to possess both 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase and acetyl-CoA acetyltransferase activities. Genetic disruption experiments have shown that five genes encoding proteins involved in this pathway (HMG-CoA synthase, HMG-CoA reductase, mevalonate kinase, phosphomevalonate kinase, and mevalonate diphosphate decarboxylase) are essential for the in vitro growth of Streptococcus pneumoniae under standard conditions. Allelic replacement of the HMG-CoA synthase gene rendered the organism auxotrophic for mevalonate and severely attenuated in a murine respiratory tract infection model. The mevalonate pathway thus represents a potential antibacterial target in the low-G+C gram-positive cocci.
The gene encoding the putative mevalonate diphosphate decarboxylase, an enzyme from the mevalonate pathway of isoprenoid precursor biosynthesis, has been cloned from T. brucei. Recombinant protein has been expressed, purified and highly ordered crystals obtained and characterized to aid the structure–function analysis of this enzyme.
Mevalonate diphosphate decarboxylase catalyses the last and least well characterized step in the mevalonate pathway for the biosynthesis of isopentenyl pyrophosphate, an isoprenoid precursor. A gene predicted to encode the enzyme from Trypanosoma brucei has been cloned, a highly efficient expression system established and a purification protocol determined. The enzyme gives monoclinic crystals in space group P21, with unit-cell parameters a = 51.5, b = 168.7, c = 54.9 Å, β = 118.8°. A Matthews coefficient V
M of 2.5 Å3 Da−1 corresponds to two monomers, each approximately 42 kDa (385 residues), in the asymmetric unit with 50% solvent content. These crystals are well ordered and data to high resolution have been recorded using synchrotron radiation.
decarboxylases; mevalonate biosynthesis; isoprenoids; Trypanosoma
The mevalonate pathway is utilized for the biosynthesis of isoprenoids in many bacterial, eukaryotic, and archaeal organisms. Based on previous reports of its feedback inhibition, mevalonate kinase (MVK) may play an important regulatory role in the biosynthesis of mevalonate pathway-derived compounds. Here we report the purification, kinetic characterization, and inhibition analysis of the MVK from the archaeon Methanosarcina mazei. The inhibition of the M. mazei MVK by the following metabolites derived from the mevalonate pathway was explored: dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP), geranyl pyrophosphate (GPP), farnesyl pyrophosphate (FPP), isopentenyl monophosphate (IP), and diphosphomevalonate. M. mazei MVK was not inhibited by DMAPP, GPP, FPP, diphosphomevalonate, or IP, a proposed intermediate in an alternative isoprenoid pathway present in archaea. Our findings suggest that the M. mazei MVK represents a distinct class of mevalonate kinases that can be differentiated from previously characterized MVKs based on its inhibition profile.
Isoprenoids are a class of ubiquitous organic molecules synthesized from the five-carbon starter unit isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP). Comprising more than 30,000 known natural products, isoprenoids serve various important biological functions in many organisms. In bacteria, undecaprenyl pyrophosphate is absolutely required for the formation of cell wall peptidoglycan and other cell surface structures, while ubiquinones and menaquinones, both containing an essential prenyl moiety, are key electron carriers in respiratory energy generation. There is scant knowledge on the nature and regulation of bacterial isoprenoid pathways. In order to explore the cellular responses to perturbations in the mevalonate pathway, responsible for producing the isoprenoid precursor IPP in many gram-positive bacteria and eukaryotes, we constructed three strains of Staphylococcus aureus in which each of the mevalonate pathway genes is regulated by an IPTG (isopropyl-β-d-thiogalactopyranoside)-inducible promoter. We used DNA microarrays to profile the transcriptional effects of downregulating the components of the mevalonate pathway in S. aureus and demonstrate that decreased expression of the mevalonate pathway leads to widespread downregulation of primary metabolism genes, an upregulation in virulence factors and cell wall biosynthetic determinants, and surprisingly little compensatory expression in other isoprenoid biosynthetic genes. We subsequently correlate these transcriptional changes with downstream metabolic consequences.
Isoprenoid precursor synthesis via the mevalonate route in humans and pathogenic trypanosomatids is an important metabolic pathway. There is however, only limited information available on the structure and reactivity of the component enzymes in trypanosomatids. Since isoprenoid biosynthesis is essential for trypanosomatid viability and may provide new targets for therapeutic intervention it is important to characterize the pathway components.
Putative mevalonate kinase encoding genes from Leishmania major (LmMK) and Trypanosoma brucei (TbMK) have been cloned, over-expressed in and proteins isolated from procyclic-form T. brucei. A highly sensitive radioactive assay was developed and shows ATP-dependent phosphorylation of mevalonate. Apo and (R)-mevalonate bound crystal structures of LmMK, from a bacterial expression system, have been determined to high resolution providing, for the first time, information concerning binding of mevalonate to an MK. The mevalonate binds in a deep cavity lined by highly conserved residues. His25 is key for binding and for discrimination of (R)- over (S)-mevalonate, with the main chain amide interacting with the C3 hydroxyl group of (R)-mevalonate, and the side chain contributing, together with Val202 and Thr283, to the construction of a hydrophobic binding site for the C3 methyl substituent. The C5 hydroxyl, where phosphorylation occurs, points towards catalytic residues, Lys18 and Asp155. The activity of LmMK was significantly reduced compared to MK from other species and we were unable to obtain ATP-binding data. Comparisons with the rat MK:ATP complex were used to investigate how this substrate might bind. In LmMK, helix α2 and the preceding polypeptide adopt a conformation, not seen in related kinase structures, impeding access to the nucleotide triphosphate binding site suggesting that a conformational rearrangement is required to allow ATP binding.
Our new structural information, consistent with data on homologous enzymes allows a detailed description of how mevalonate is recognized and positioned for catalysis in MK. The mevalonate-binding site is highly conserved yet the ATP-binding site is structurally distinct in LmMK. We are unable to provide a definitive explanation for the low activity of recombinant protein isolated from a bacterial expression system compared to material isolated from procyclic-form Trypanosoma brucei.
In mycobacteria, the biosynthesis of the precursors to the essential isoprenoids, isopentenyl diphosphate and dimethylallyl pyrophosphate is carried out by the methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway. This route of synthesis is absent in humans, who utilize the alternative mevalonate acid (MVA) route, thus making the enzymes of the MEP pathway of chemotherapeutic interest. One such identified target is the second enzyme of the pathway, 1-Deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate reductoisomerase (DXR). Only limited information is currently available concerning the catalytic mechanism and structural dynamics of this enzyme, and only recently has a crystal structure of Mycobacterium tuberculosis species of this enzyme been resolved including all factors required for binding. Here, the dynamics of the enzyme is studied in complex with NADPH, Mn2+, in the presence and absence of the fosmidomycin inhibitor using conventional molecular dynamics and an enhanced sampling technique, Reversible Digitally Filtered Molecular Dynamics. The simulations reveal significant differences in the conformational dynamics of the vital catalytic loop between the inhibitor-free and inhibitor-bound enzyme complexes and highlight the contributions of conserved residues in this region. The substantial fluctuations observed suggest that DXR may be a promising target for computer-aided drug discovery through the relaxed complex method.
Isoprenoids are natural products that are all derived from isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). These precursors are synthesized either by the mevalonate (MVA) pathway or the 1-Deoxy-D-Xylulose 5-Phosphate (DXP) pathway. Metabolic engineering of microbes has enabled overproduction of various isoprenoid products from the DXP pathway including lycopene, artemisinic acid, taxadiene and levopimaradiene. To date, there is no method to accurately measure all the DXP metabolic intermediates simultaneously so as to enable the identification of potential flux limiting steps. In this study, a solid phase extraction coupled with ultra performance liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (SPE UPLC-MS) method was developed. This method was used to measure the DXP intermediates in genetically engineered E. coli. Unexpectedly, methylerythritol cyclodiphosphate (MEC) was found to efflux when certain enzymes of the pathway were over-expressed, demonstrating the existence of a novel competing pathway branch in the DXP metabolism. Guided by these findings, ispG was overexpressed and was found to effectively reduce the efflux of MEC inside the cells, resulting in a significant increase in downstream isoprenoid production. This study demonstrated the necessity to quantify metabolites enabling the identification of a hitherto unrecognized pathway and provided useful insights into rational design in metabolic engineering.
The cholesterol biosynthetic pathway produces not only sterols but also non-sterol mevalonate metabolites involved in isoprenoid synthesis. Mevalonate metabolites affect transcriptional and post-transcriptional events that in turn affect various biological processes including energy metabolism. In the present study, we examine whether mevalonate metabolites activate PPARγ (peroxisome-proliferator-activated receptor γ), a ligand-dependent transcription factor playing a central role in adipocyte differentiation. In the luciferase reporter assay using both GAL4 chimaera and full-length PPARγ systems, a mevalonate metabolite, FPP (farnesyl pyrophosphate), which is the precursor of almost all isoprenoids and is positioned at branch points leading to the synthesis of other longer-chain isoprenoids, activated PPARγ in a dose-dependent manner. FPP induced the in vitro binding of a co-activator, SRC-1 (steroid receptor co-activator-1), to GST (glutathione transferase)–PPARγ. Direct binding of FPP to PPARγ was also indicated by docking simulation studies. Moreover, the addition of FPP up-regulated the mRNA expression levels of PPARγ target genes during adipocyte differentiation induction. In the presence of lovastatin, an HMG-CoA (3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA) reductase inhibitor, both intracellular FPP levels and PPARγ-target gene expressions were decreased. In contrast, the increase in intracellular FPP level after the addition of zaragozic acid, a squalene synthase inhibitor, induced PPARγ-target gene expression. The addition of FPP and zaragozic acid promotes lipid accumulation during adipocyte differentiation. These findings indicated that FPP might function as an endogenous PPARγ agonist and regulate gene expression in adipocytes.
adipocyte differentiation; farnesyl pyrophosphate (FPP); ligand; metabolic syndrome; mevalonate metabolite; peroxisome-proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ); aP2, adipocyte fatty-acid-binding protein; CREB, cAMP-response-element-binding protein; CBP, CREB-binding protein; DMEM, Dulbecco's modified Eagle's medium; Fmoc, fluoren-9-ylmethoxycarbonyl; FPP, farnesyl pyrophosphate; FPTase, farnesyl pyrophosphate transferase; GGPP, geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate; GLUT4, glucose transporter 4; GST, glutathione transferase; 5HE, 5-hydroxyeicosapentaenoic acid; HMG-CoA, 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA; IBMX, 1-methyl-3-isobutylxanthine; LC/MS, liquid chromatography MS; LPL, lipoprotein lipase; MD, molecular dynamics; Pio, pioglitazone; PPAR, peroxisome-proliferator-activated receptor; RMSD, root-mean-square displacement; RT–PCR, reverse transcription–PCR; RXR, retinoid X receptor; SCD, stearoyl-CoA desaturase; SRC-1, steroid receptor co-activator-1; SREBP, sterol-regulatory-element-binding protein; TAMRA, 6-carboxytetramethylrhodamine; WAT, white adipose tissue
Isoprenoid compounds are ubiquitous in nature, participating in important biological phenomena such as signal transduction, aerobic cellular respiration, photosynthesis, insect communication, and many others. They are derived from the 5-carbon isoprenoid substrates isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and its isomer dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). In Archaea and Eukarya, these building blocks are synthesized via the mevalonate pathway. However, the genes required to convert mevalonate phosphate (MP) to IPP are missing in several species of Archaea. An enzyme with isopentenyl phosphate kinase (IPK) activity was recently discovered in Methanocaldococcus jannaschii (MJ), suggesting a departure from the classical sequence of converting MP to IPP. We have determined the high-resolution crystal structures of isopentenyl phosphate kinases in complex with both substrates and products from Thermoplasma acidophilum (THA), as well as the IPK from Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus (MTH), by means of single-wavelength anomalous diffraction (SAD) and molecular replacement. A histidine residue (His50) in THA IPK makes a hydrogen bond with the terminal phosphates of IP and IPP, poising these molecules for phosphoryl transfer through an in-line geometry. Moreover, a lysine residue (Lys14) makes hydrogen bonds with non-bridging oxygen atoms at Pα and Pγ and with the Pβ- Pγ bridging oxygen atom in ATP. These interactions suggest a transition state-stabilizing role for this residue. Lys14 is a part of a newly discovered “lysine triangle” catalytic motif in IPK’s that also includes Lys5 and Lys205. Moreover, His50, Lys5, Lys14, and Lys205 are conserved in all IPK’s and can therefore serve as fingerprints for identifying new homologues.
Engineering biosynthetic pathways in heterologous microbial host organisms offers an elegant approach to pathway elucidation via the incorporation of putative biosynthetic enzymes and characterization of resulting novel metabolites. Our previous work in Escherichia coli demonstrated the feasibility of a facile modular approach to engineering the production of labdane-related diterpene (20 carbon) natural products. However, yield was limited (<0.1 mg/L), presumably due to reliance on endogenous production of the isoprenoid precursors dimethylallyl diphosphate and isopentenyl diphosphate. Here, we report incorporation of either a heterologous mevalonate pathway (MEV) or enhancement of the endogenous methyl erythritol phosphate pathway (MEP) with our modular metabolic engineering system. With MEP pathway enhancement, it was found that pyruvate supplementation of rich media and simultaneous overexpression of three genes (idi, dxs, and dxr) resulted in the greatest increase in diterpene yield, indicating distributed metabolic control within this pathway. Incorporation of a heterologous MEV pathway in bioreactor grown cultures resulted in significantly higher yields than MEP pathway enhancement. We have established suitable growth conditions for diterpene production levels ranging from 10 to >100 mg/L of E. coli culture. These amounts are sufficient for nuclear magnetic resonance analyses, enabling characterization of enzymatic products and hence, pathway elucidation. Furthermore, these results represent an up to >1,000-fold improvement in diterpene production from our facile, modular platform, with MEP pathway enhancement offering a cost effective alternative with reasonable yield. Finally, we reiterate here that this modular approach is expandable and should be easily adaptable to the production of any terpenoid natural product.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00253-009-2219-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Terpenoid; Natural products biosynthesis; Metabolic engineering; Isoprenoid
The mevalonate pathway in human is responsible for the synthesis of cholesterol and other important biomolecules such as coenzyme Q, dolichols and isoprenoids. These molecules are required in the cell for functions ranging from signaling to membrane integrity, protein prenylation and glycosylation, and energy homeostasis. The pathway consists of a main trunk followed by sub-branches that synthesize the different biomolecules. The majority of our knowledge about the mevalonate pathway is currently focused on the cholesterol synthesis branch, which is the target of the cholesterol-lowering statins; less is known about the function and regulation of the non-cholesterol-related branches. To study them, we need a biological system where it is possible to specifically modulate these metabolic branches individually or in groups. The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) is a promising model to study these non-cholesterol branches since its mevalonate pathway seems very well conserved with that in human except that it has no cholesterol synthesis branch. The simple genetic makeup and tractability of C. elegans makes it relatively easy to identify and manipulate key genetic components of the mevalonate pathway, and to evaluate the consequences of tampering with their activity. This general experimental approach should lead to new insights into the physiological roles of the non-cholesterol part of the mevalonate pathway. This review will focus on the current knowledge related to the mevalonate pathway in C. elegans and its possible applications as a model organism to study the non-cholesterol functions of this pathway.
C. elegans; mevalonate pathway; statin; coenzyme Q; dolichol; cholesterol; protein prenylation