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1.  A Whole-Cell Phenotypic Screening Platform for Identifying Methylerythritol Phosphate Pathway-Selective Inhibitors as Novel Antibacterial Agents 
Isoprenoid biosynthesis is essential for survival of all living organisms. More than 50,000 unique isoprenoids occur naturally, with each constructed from two simple five-carbon precursors: isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). Two pathways for the biosynthesis of IPP and DMAPP are found in nature. Humans exclusively use the mevalonate (MVA) pathway, while most bacteria, including all Gram-negative and many Gram-positive species, use the unrelated methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway. Here we report the development of a novel, whole-cell phenotypic screening platform to identify compounds that selectively inhibit the MEP pathway. Strains of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium were engineered to have separately inducible MEP (native) and MVA (nonnative) pathways. These strains, RMC26 and CT31-7d, were then used to differentiate MVA pathway- and MEP pathway-specific perturbation. Compounds that inhibit MEP pathway-dependent bacterial growth but leave MVA-dependent growth unaffected represent MEP pathway-selective antibacterials. This screening platform offers three significant results. First, the compound is antibacterial and is therefore cell permeant, enabling access to the intracellular target. Second, the compound inhibits one or more MEP pathway enzymes. Third, the MVA pathway is unaffected, suggesting selectivity for targeting the bacterial versus host pathway. The cell lines also display increased sensitivity to two reported MEP pathway-specific inhibitors, further biasing the platform toward inhibitors selective for the MEP pathway. We demonstrate development of a robust, high-throughput screening platform that combines phenotypic and target-based screening that can identify MEP pathway-selective antibacterials simply by monitoring optical density as the readout for cell growth/inhibition.
doi:10.1128/AAC.00987-12
PMCID: PMC3421842  PMID: 22777049
2.  Mutation of Archaeal Isopentenyl Phosphate Kinase Highlights Mechanism and Guides Phosphorylation of Additional Isoprenoid Monophosphates 
ACS Chemical Biology  2010;5(6):589-601.
The biosynthesis of isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) from either the mevalonate (MVA) or the 1-deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate (DXP) pathway provides the key metabolite for primary and secondary isoprenoid biosynthesis. Isoprenoid metabolism plays crucial roles in membrane stability, steroid biosynthesis, vitamin production, protein localization, defense and communication, photoprotection, sugar transport, and glycoprotein biosynthesis. Recently, an alternative branch of the MVA pathway was discovered in the archaeon Methanocaldococcus jannaschii involving a small molecule kinase, isopentenyl phosphate kinase (IPK). IPK belongs to the amino acid kinase (AAK) superfamily. In vitro, IPK phosphorylates isopentenyl monophosphate (IP) in an ATP and Mg2+-dependent reaction producing IPP. Here, we describe crystal structures of IPK from M. jannaschii refined to nominal resolutions of 2.0−2.8 Å. Notably, an active site histidine residue (His60) forms a hydrogen bond with the terminal phosphate of both substrate and product. This His residue serves as a marker for a subset of the AAK family that catalyzes phosphorylation of phosphate or phosphonate functional groups; the larger family includes carboxyl-directed kinases, which lack this active site residue. Using steady-state kinetic analysis of H60A, H60N, and H60Q mutants, the protonated form of the Nε2 nitrogen of His60 was shown to be essential for catalysis, most likely through hydrogen bond stabilization of the transition state accompanying transphosphorylation. Moreover, the structures served as the starting point for the engineering of IPK mutants capable of the chemoenzymatic synthesis of longer chain isoprenoid diphosphates from monophosphate precursors.
doi:10.1021/cb1000313
PMCID: PMC2887675  PMID: 20392112
3.  Inhibition Studies on Enzymes Involved in Isoprenoid Biosynthesis: Focus on Two Potential Drug Targets: DXR and IDI-2 Enzymes 
Current enzyme inhibition  2011;7(2):10.2174/157340811796575317.
Isoprenoid compounds constitute an immensely diverse group of acyclic, monocyclic and polycyclic compounds that play important roles in all living organisms. Despite the diversity of their structures, this plethora of natural products arises from only two 5-carbon precursors, isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). This review will discuss the enzymes in the mevalonate (MVA) and methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) biosynthetic pathways leading to IPP and DMAPP with a particular focus on MEP synthase (DXR) and IPP isomerase (IDI), which are potential targets for the development of antibiotic compounds. DXR is the second enzyme in the MEP pathway and the only one for which inhibitors with antimicrobial activity at pharmaceutically relevant concentrations are known. All of the published DXR inhibitors are fosmidomycin analogues, except for a few bisphosphonates with moderate inhibitory activity. These far, there are no other candidates that target DXR. IDI was first identified and characterised over 40 years ago (IDI-1) and a second convergently evolved isoform (IDI-2) was discovered in 2001. IDI-1 is a metalloprotein found in Eukarya and many species of Bacteria. Its mechanism has been extensively studied. In contrast, IDI-2 requires reduced flavin mononucleotide as a cofactor. The mechanism of action for IDI-2 is less well defined. This review will describe how lead inhibitors are being improved by structure-based drug design and enzymatic assays against DXR to lead to new drug families and how mechanistic probes are being used to address questions about the mechanisms of the isomerases.
doi:10.2174/157340811796575317
PMCID: PMC3856697  PMID: 24339799
DXR; IDI; isomerase; isopentenyl; isoprenoid; MEP; mevalonate; MVA; reductoisomerase
4.  In silico profiling of Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae as terpenoid factories 
Background
Heterologous microbial production of rare plant terpenoids of medicinal or industrial interest is attracting more and more attention but terpenoid yields are still low. Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae are the most widely used heterologous hosts; a direct comparison of both hosts based on experimental data is difficult though. Hence, the terpenoid pathways of E. coli (via 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate, DXP) and S. cerevisiae (via mevalonate, MVA), the impact of the respective hosts metabolism as well as the impact of different carbon sources were compared in silico by means of elementary mode analysis. The focus was set on the yield of isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP), the general terpenoid precursor, to identify new metabolic engineering strategies for an enhanced terpenoid yield.
Results
Starting from the respective precursor metabolites of the terpenoid pathways (pyruvate and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate for the DXP pathway and acetyl-CoA for the MVA pathway) and considering only carbon stoichiometry, the two terpenoid pathways are identical with respect to carbon yield. However, with glucose as substrate, the MVA pathway has a lower potential to supply terpenoids in high yields than the DXP pathway if the formation of the required precursors is taken into account, due to the carbon loss in the formation of acetyl-CoA. This maximum yield is further reduced in both hosts when the required energy and reduction equivalents are considered. Moreover, the choice of carbon source (glucose, xylose, ethanol or glycerol) has an effect on terpenoid yield with non-fermentable carbon sources being more promising. Both hosts have deficiencies in energy and redox equivalents for high yield terpenoid production leading to new overexpression strategies (heterologous enzymes/pathways) for an enhanced terpenoid yield. Finally, several knockout strategies are identified using constrained minimal cut sets enforcing a coupling of growth to a terpenoid yield which is higher than any yield published in scientific literature so far.
Conclusions
This study provides for the first time a comprehensive and detailed in silico comparison of the most prominent heterologous hosts E. coli and S. cerevisiae as terpenoid factories giving an overview on several promising metabolic engineering strategies paving the way for an enhanced terpenoid yield.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-12-84
PMCID: PMC3852115  PMID: 24059635
Terpenoids; Isoprenoids; In silico; Elementary mode analysis; Constrained minimal cut sets; Metabolic engineering; Escherichia coli; Saccharomyces cerevisiae
5.  Metabolic engineering of Escherichia coli for high-specificity production of isoprenol and prenol as next generation of biofuels 
Background
The isopentenols, including isoprenol and prenol, are excellent alternative fuels. However, they are not compounds largely accumulated in natural organism. The need for the next generation of biofuels with better physical and chemical properties impels us to develop biosynthetic routes for the production of isoprenol and prenol from renewable sugar. In this study, we use the heterogenous mevalonate-dependent (MVA) isoprenoid pathway for the synthesis of isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl pyrophosphate (DMAPP) intermediates, and then convert IPP and DMAPP to isoprenol and prenol, respectively.
Results
A mevalonate titer of 1.7 g/L was obtained by constructing an efficient MVA upper pathway in engineered E. coli. Different phosphatases and pyrophosphatases were investigated for their abilities in hydrolyzing the IPP and DMAPP. Consequently, ADP-ribose pyrophosphatase was found to be an efficient IPP and DMAPP hydrolase. Moreover, ADP-ribose pyrophosphatase from Bacillus subtilis (BsNudF) exhibited a equivalent substrate specificity towards IPP and DMAPP, while ADP-ribose pyrophosphatase from E. coli (EcNudF) presented a high substrate preference for DMAPP. Without the expression of any phosphatases or pyrophosphatases, a background level of isopentenols was synthesized. When the endogenous pyrophosphatase genes (EcNudF and yggV) that were capable of enhancing the hydrolyzation of the IPP and DMAPP were knocked out, the background level of isopentenols was still obtained. Maybe the synthesized IPP and DMAPP were hydrolyzed by some unknown hydrolases of E. coli. Finally, 1.3 g/L single isoprenol was obtained by blocking the conversion of IPP to DMAPP and employing the BsNudF, and 0.2 g/L ~80% prenol was produced by employing the EcNudF. A maximal yield of 12% was achieved in both isoprenol and prenol producing strains.
Conclusions
To the best of our knowledge, this is the first successful report on high-specificity production of isoprenol and prenol by microbial fermentation. Over 1.3 g/L isoprenol achieved in shake-flask experiments represents a quite encouraging titer of higher alcohols. In addition, the substrate specificities of ADP-ribose pyrophosphatases were determined and successfully applied for the high-specificity synthesis of isoprenol and prenol. Altogether, this work presents a promising strategy for high-specificity production of two excellent biofuels, isoprenol and prenol.
doi:10.1186/1754-6834-6-57
PMCID: PMC3654967  PMID: 23618128
Isoprenol; Prenol; Metabolic engineering; Escherichia coli; Biofuel
6.  Two distinct pathways for essential metabolic precursors for isoprenoid biosynthesis 
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.
doi:10.2183/pjab.88.41
PMCID: PMC3365244  PMID: 22450534
biosynthesis; inhibitor; isoprenoid; MEP pathway; mevalonate pathway; terpenoid
7.  Escherichia coli Open Reading Frame 696 Is idi, a Nonessential Gene Encoding Isopentenyl Diphosphate Isomerase 
Journal of Bacteriology  1999;181(15):4499-4504.
Isopentenyl diphosphate isomerase catalyzes the interconversion of isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). In eukaryotes, archaebacteria, and some bacteria, IPP is synthesized from acetyl coenzyme A by the mevalonate pathway. The subsequent isomerization of IPP to DMAPP activates the five-carbon isoprene unit for subsequent prenyl transfer reactions. In Escherichia coli, the isoprene unit is synthesized from pyruvate and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate by the recently discovered nonmevalonate pathway. An open reading frame (ORF696) encoding a putative IPP isomerase was identified in the E. coli chromosome at 65.3 min. ORF696 was cloned into an expression vector; the 20.5 kDa recombinant protein was purified in three steps, and its identity as an IPP isomerase was established biochemically. The gene for IPP isomerase, idi, is not clustered with other known genes for enzymes in the isoprenoid pathway. E. coli FH12 was constructed by disruption of the chromosomal idi gene with the aminoglycoside 3′-phosphotransferase gene and complemented by the wild-type idi gene on plasmid pFMH33 with a temperature-sensitive origin of replication. FH12/pFMH33 was able to grow at the restrictive temperature of 44°C and FH12 lacking the plasmid grew on minimal medium, thereby establishing that idi is a nonessential gene. Although the Vmax of the bacterial protein was 20-fold lower than that of its yeast counterpart, the catalytic efficiencies of the two enzymes were similar through a counterbalance in Kms. The E. coli protein requires Mg2+ or Mn2+ for activity. The enzyme contains conserved cysteine and glutamate active-site residues found in other IPP isomerases.
PMCID: PMC103578  PMID: 10419945
8.  Mutations in Escherichia coli aceE and ribB Genes Allow Survival of Strains Defective in the First Step of the Isoprenoid Biosynthesis Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43775.
A functional 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway is required for isoprenoid biosynthesis and hence survival in Escherichia coli and most other bacteria. In the first two steps of the pathway, MEP is produced from the central metabolic intermediates pyruvate and glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate via 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate (DXP) by the activity of the enzymes DXP synthase (DXS) and DXP reductoisomerase (DXR). Because the MEP pathway is absent from humans, it was proposed as a promising new target to develop new antibiotics. However, the lethal phenotype caused by the deletion of DXS or DXR was found to be suppressed with a relatively high efficiency by unidentified mutations. Here we report that several mutations in the unrelated genes aceE and ribB rescue growth of DXS-defective mutants because the encoded enzymes allowed the production of sufficient DXP in vivo. Together, this work unveils the diversity of mechanisms that can evolve in bacteria to circumvent a blockage of the first step of the MEP pathway.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0043775
PMCID: PMC3424233  PMID: 22928031
9.  X-ray structures of isopentenyl phosphate kinase 
ACS chemical biology  2010;5(5):517-527.
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.
doi:10.1021/cb100032g
PMCID: PMC2879073  PMID: 20402538
10.  Isopentenyl Diphosphate Isomerase. Mechanism-Based Inhibition by Diene Analogues of Isopentenyl Diphosphate and Dimethylallyl Diphosphate 
Journal of the American Chemical Society  2005;127(49):17433-17438.
Isopentenyl diphosphate isomerase (IDI) catalyzes the interconversion of isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). This is an essential step in the mevalonate entry into the isoprenoid biosynthetic pathway. The isomerization catalyzed by type I IDI involves protonation of the carbon-carbon double bond in IPP or DMAPP to form a tertiary carbocation, followed by deprotonation. Diene analogs for DMAPP (E-2-OPP and Z-2-OPP) and IPP (4-OPP) were synthesized and found to be potent active-site directed irreversible inhibitors of the enzyme. X-ray analysis of the E·I complex between E. coli IDI and 4-OPP reveals the presence of two isomers that differ in the stereochemistry of the newly formed C3-C4 double bond in the hydrocarbon chain of the inhibitor. In both adducts C5 of the inhibitor is joined to the sulfur of C67. In these structures the methyl group formed upon protonation of the diene moiety in 4-OPP is located near E116, implicating that residue in the protonation step.
doi:10.1021/ja056187h
PMCID: PMC2528281  PMID: 16332094
11.  Characterization of Thermophilic Archaeal Isopentenyl Phosphate Kinases 
Biochemistry  2010;49(1):10.1021/bi9017957.
Archaea synthesize isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP), the essential building blocks of isoprenoid compounds, from mevalonate (MVA). However, an analysis of the genomes of several members of the Archaea failed to identify genes for the enzymes required to convert phosphomevalonate (PM) to IPP in Eukaryotes. The recent discovery of an isopentenyl kinase (IPK) in Methanocaldococcus jannaschii (MJ) suggests a new variation of the MVA pathway where PM is decarboxylated to give isopentenyl phosphate (IP), which is phosphorylated to produce IPP. A blast search using the MJ protein as a probe revealed a subfamily of amino acid kinases that include the fosfomycin resistance protein fomA, which deactivates the antibiotic by phosphorylation of its phosphonate residue in a reaction similar to the conversion of IP to IPP. IPK genes were cloned from two organisms identified in the search, Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus (MTH) and Thermoplasma acidophilum (THA), and the His-tagged recombinant proteins were purified by Ni-NTA chromatography. The enzymes catalyze the reversible phosphorylation of IP by ATP, Keq = 6.3 ± 1. The catalytic efficiencies (V/K) of the proteins were ~2 × 106 M−1s−1. In the reverse direction, ADP was a substrate inhibitor for THA IPK, KiADP = 58 ± 6 µM but not for MTH IPK. Both enzymes were active over a broad range of pH and temperature. Five compounds, dimethylallyl phosphate, isopentenyl thiolophosphate, 1-butyl phosphate, 3-buten-1-yl phosphate, and geranyl phosphate, were evaluated as alternative substrate for the MTH and THA IP kinases. All of the compounds were phosphorylated, although the catalytic efficiency was low for geranyl phosphate.
doi:10.1021/bi9017957
PMCID: PMC3856865  PMID: 19928876
12.  Subcellular evidence for the involvement of peroxisomes in plant isoprenoid biosynthesis 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2011;6(12):2044-2046.
The role of peroxisomes in isoprenoid metabolism, especially in plants, has been questioned in several reports. A recent study of Sapir-Mir et al.1 revealed that the two isoforms of isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) isomerase, catalyzing the isomerisation of IPP to dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP) are found in the peroxisome. In this addendum, we provide additional data describing the peroxisomal localization of 5-phosphomevalonate kinase and mevalonate 5-diphosphate decarboxylase, the last two enzymes of the mevalonic acid pathway leading to IPP.2 This finding was reinforced in our latest report showing that a short isoform of farnesyl diphosphate, using IPP and DMAPP as substrates, is also targeted to the organelle.3 Therefore, the classical sequestration of isoprenoid biosynthesis between plastids and cytosol/ER can be revisited by including the peroxisome as an additional isoprenoid biosynthetic compartment within plant cells.
doi:10.4161/psb.6.12.18173
PMCID: PMC3337203  PMID: 22080790
5-phosphomevalonate kinase; Arabidopsis thaliana; Catharanthus roseus; farnesyl diphosphate synthase; isoprenoid; mevalonate 5-diphosphate decarboxylase; mevalonic acid pathway; peroxisome
13.  2C-Methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate enhances and sustains cyclodiphosphate synthase IspF activity 
ACS chemical biology  2012;7(10):1702-1710.
There is significant progress toward understanding catalysis throughout the essential MEP pathway to isoprenoids in human pathogens; however, little is known about pathway regulation. The present study begins by testing the hypothesis that isoprenoid biosynthesis is regulated via feedback inhibition of the fifth enzyme cyclodiphosphate IspF by downstream isoprenoid diphosphates. Here, we demonstrate recombinant E. coli IspF is not inhibited by downstream metabolites and isopentenyl diphosphate (IDP), dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMADP), geranyl diphosphate (GDP) and farnesyl diphosphate (FDP) under standard assay conditions. However, 2C-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP), the product of reductoisomerase IspC and first committed MEP pathway intermediate, activates and sustains this enhanced IspF activity, and the IspF-MEP complex is inhibited by FDP. We further show that the methylerythritol scaffold itself, which is unique to this pathway, drives the activation and stabilization of active IspF. Our results suggest a novel feed-forward regulatory mechanism for 2Cmethyl-d-erythritol 2,4-cyclodiphosphate (MEcDP) production and support an isoprenoid biosynthesis regulatory mechanism via feedback inhibition of the IspF-MEP complex by FDP. The results have important implications for development of inhibitors against the IspF-MEP complex, which may be the physiologically relevant form of the enzyme.
doi:10.1021/cb300243w
PMCID: PMC3477264  PMID: 22839733
cyclodiphosphate synthase; IspF; methylerythritol phosphate; MEP pathway regulation
14.  Combining Genotype Improvement and Statistical Media Optimization for Isoprenoid Production in E. coli 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75164.
Isoprenoids are a large and diverse class of compounds that includes many high value natural products and are thus in great demand. To meet the increasing demand for isoprenoid compounds, metabolic engineering of microbes has been used to produce isoprenoids in an economical and sustainable manner. To achieve high isoprenoid yields using this technology, the availability of metabolic precursors feeding the deoxyxylulose phosphate (DXP) pathway, responsible for isoprenoid biosynthesis, has to be optimized. In this study, phosphoenolpyruvate, a vital DXP pathway precursor, was enriched by deleting the genes encoding the carbohydrate phosphotransferase system (PTS) in E. coli. Production of lycopene (a C40 isoprenoid) was maximized by optimizing growth medium and culture conditions. In optimized conditions, the lycopene yield from PTS mutant was seven fold higher than that obtained from the wild type strain. This resulted in the highest reported specific yield of lycopene produced from the DXP pathway in E. coli to date (20,000 µg/g dry cell weight). Both the copy number of the plasmid encoding the lycopene biosynthetic genes and the expression were found to be increased in the optimized media. Deletion of PTS together with a similar optimization strategy was also successful in enhancing the production of amorpha-1,4-diene, a distinct C15 isoprenoid, suggesting that the approaches developed herein can be generally applied to optimize production of other isoprenoids.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075164
PMCID: PMC3790805  PMID: 24124471
15.  Conformational Dynamics of the Flexible Catalytic Loop in Mycobacterium tuberculosis 1-Deoxy-D-xylulose 5-Phosphate Reductoisomerase 
Chemical biology & drug design  2009;73(1):26-38.
In mycobacteria, the biosynthesis of the precursors to the essential isoprenoids, isopentenyl diphosphate and dimethylallyl pyrophosphate is carried out by the methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway. This route of synthesis is absent in humans, who utilize the alternative mevalonate acid (MVA) route, thus making the enzymes of the MEP pathway of chemotherapeutic interest. One such identified target is the second enzyme of the pathway, 1-Deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate reductoisomerase (DXR). Only limited information is currently available concerning the catalytic mechanism and structural dynamics of this enzyme, and only recently has a crystal structure of Mycobacterium tuberculosis species of this enzyme been resolved including all factors required for binding. Here, the dynamics of the enzyme is studied in complex with NADPH, Mn2+, in the presence and absence of the fosmidomycin inhibitor using conventional molecular dynamics and an enhanced sampling technique, Reversible Digitally Filtered Molecular Dynamics. The simulations reveal significant differences in the conformational dynamics of the vital catalytic loop between the inhibitor-free and inhibitor-bound enzyme complexes and highlight the contributions of conserved residues in this region. The substantial fluctuations observed suggest that DXR may be a promising target for computer-aided drug discovery through the relaxed complex method.
doi:10.1111/j.1747-0285.2008.00749.x
PMCID: PMC2982673  PMID: 19152632
16.  Inactivation of sll1556 in Synechocystis Strain PCC 6803 Impairs Isoprenoid Biosynthesis from Pentose Phosphate Cycle Substrates In Vitro 
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(14):4685-4693.
In cyanobacteria many compounds, including chlorophylls, carotenoids, and hopanoids, are synthesized from the isoprenoid precursors isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate. Isoprenoid biosynthesis in extracts of the cyanobacterium Synechocystis strain PCC 6803 grown under photosynthetic conditions, stimulated by pentose phosphate cycle substrates, does not appear to require methylerythritol phosphate pathway intermediates. The sll1556 gene, distantly related to type 2 IPP isomerase genes, was disrupted by insertion of a Kanr cassette. The mutant was fully viable under photosynthetic conditions although impaired in the utilization of pentose phosphate cycle substrates. Compared to the parental strain the Δsll1556 mutant (i) is deficient in isoprenoid biosynthesis in vitro with substrates including glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate, fructose-6-phosphate, and glucose-6-phosphate; (ii) has smaller cells (diameter ca. 13% less); (iii) has fewer thylakoids (ca. 30% less); and (iv) has a more extensive fibrous outer wall layer. Isoprenoid biosynthesis is restored with pentose phosphate cycle substrates plus the recombinant Sll1556 protein in the Δsll1556 supernatant fraction. IPP isomerase activity could not be demonstrated for the purified Sll1556 protein under our in vitro conditions. The reduction of thylakoid area and the effect on outer wall layer components are consistent with an impairment of isoprenoid biosynthesis in the mutant, possibly via hopanoid biosynthesis. Our findings are consistent with an alternate metabolic shunt for biosynthesis of isoprenoids.
doi:10.1128/JB.186.14.4685-4693.2004
PMCID: PMC438581  PMID: 15231801
17.  Cloning and Characterization of 1-Deoxy-d-Xylulose 5-Phosphate Synthase from Streptomyces sp. Strain CL190, Which Uses both the Mevalonate and Nonmevalonate Pathways for Isopentenyl Diphosphate Biosynthesis 
Journal of Bacteriology  2000;182(4):891-897.
In addition to the ubiquitous mevalonate pathway, Streptomyces sp. strain CL190 utilizes the nonmevalonate pathway for isopentenyl diphosphate biosynthesis. The initial step of this nonmevalonate pathway is the formation of 1-deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate (DXP) by condensation of pyruvate and glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate catalyzed by DXP synthase. The corresponding gene, dxs, was cloned from CL190 by using PCR with two oligonucleotide primers synthesized on the basis of two highly conserved regions among dxs homologs from six genera. The dxs gene of CL190 encodes 631 amino acid residues with a predicted molecular mass of 68 kDa. The recombinant enzyme overexpressed in Escherichia coli was purified as a soluble protein and characterized. The molecular mass of the enzyme was estimated to be 70 kDa by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and 130 kDa by gel filtration chromatography, suggesting that the enzyme is most likely to be a dimer. The enzyme showed a pH optimum of 9.0, with a Vmax of 370 U per mg of protein and Kms of 65 μM for pyruvate and 120 μM for d-glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate. The purified enzyme catalyzed the formation of 1-deoxyxylulose by condensation of pyruvate and glyceraldehyde as well, with a Km value of 35 mM for d-glyceraldehyde. To compare the enzymatic properties of CL190 and E. coli DXP synthases, the latter enzyme was also overexpressed and purified. Although these two enzymes had different origins, they showed the same enzymatic properties.
PMCID: PMC94361  PMID: 10648511
18.  Isoprenoid Biosynthesis in Synechocystis sp. Strain PCC6803 Is Stimulated by Compounds of the Pentose Phosphate Cycle but Not by Pyruvate or Deoxyxylulose-5-Phosphate 
Journal of Bacteriology  2002;184(18):5045-5051.
The photosynthetic cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. strain PCC6803 possesses homologs of known genes of the non-mevalonate 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol 2-phosphate (MEP) pathway for synthesis of isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). Isoprenoid biosynthesis in extracts of this cyanobacterium, measured by incorporation of radiolabeled IPP, was not stimulated by pyruvate, an initial substrate of the MEP pathway in Escherichia coli, or by deoxyxylulose-5-phosphate, the first pathway intermediate in E. coli. However, high rates of IPP incorporation were obtained with addition of dihydroxyacetone phosphate (DHAP) and glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate (GA3P), as well as a variety of pentose phosphate cycle compounds. Fosmidomycin (at 1 μM and 1 mM), an inhibitor of deoxyxylulose-5-phosphate reductoisomerase, did not significantly inhibit phototrophic growth of the cyanobacterium, nor did it affect [14C]IPP incorporation stimulated by DHAP plus GA3P. To date, it has not been possible to unequivocally demonstrate IPP isomerase activity in this cyanobacterium. The combined results suggest that the MEP pathway, as described for E. coli, is not the primary path by which isoprenoids are synthesized under photosynthetic conditions in Synechocystis sp. strain PCC6803. Our data support alternative routes of entry of pentose phosphate cycle substrates derived from photosynthesis.
doi:10.1128/JB.184.18.5045-5051.2002
PMCID: PMC135332  PMID: 12193620
19.  Characterization of a Feedback-Resistant Mevalonate Kinase from the Archaeon Methanosarcina mazei▿ 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2011;77(21):7772-7778.
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.
doi:10.1128/AEM.05761-11
PMCID: PMC3209144  PMID: 21908638
20.  Discovery of acetylene hydratase activity of the iron–sulphur protein IspH 
Nature communications  2012;3:1042.
The final step of the methylerythritol phosphate isoprenoid biosynthesis pathway is catalysed by the iron–sulphur enzyme IspH, producing the universal precursors of terpenes: isopentenyl diphosphate and dimethylallyl diphosphate. Here we report an unforeseen reaction discovered during the investigation of the interaction of IspH with acetylene inhibitors by X-ray crystallography, Mößbauer, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. In addition to its role as a 2H+/2e− reductase, IspH can hydrate acetylenes to aldehydes and ketones via anti-Markovnikov/Markovnikov addition. The reactions only occur with the oxidised protein and proceed via η1-O-enolate intermediates. One of these is characterized crystallographically and contains a C4 ligand oxygen bound to the unique, fourth iron in the 4Fe-4S cluster: this intermediate subsequently hydrolyzes to produce an aldehyde product. This unexpected side to IspH reactivity is of interest in the context of the mechanism of action of other acetylene hydratases, as well as in the design of antiinfectives targeting IspH.
doi:10.1038/ncomms2052
PMCID: PMC3745992  PMID: 22948824
21.  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.
doi:10.1039/b903513c
PMCID: PMC3161243  PMID: 19668858
22.  Retinoid production using metabolically engineered Escherichia coli with a two-phase culture system 
Background
Retinoids are lipophilic isoprenoids composed of a cyclic group and a linear chain with a hydrophilic end group. These compounds include retinol, retinal, retinoic acid, retinyl esters, and various derivatives of these structures. Retinoids are used as cosmetic agents and effective pharmaceuticals for skin diseases. Retinal, an immediate precursor of retinoids, is derived by β-carotene 15,15'-mono(di)oxygenase (BCM(D)O) from β-carotene, which is synthesized from the isoprenoid building blocks isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). Retinoids are chemically unstable and biologically degraded via retinoic acid. Although extensive studies have been performed on the microbial production of carotenoids, retinoid production using microbial metabolic engineering has not been reported. Here, we report retinoid production using engineered Escherichia coli that express exogenous BCM(D)O and the mevalonate (MVA) pathway for the building blocks synthesis in combination with a two-phase culture system using a dodecane overlay.
Results
Among the BCM(D)O tested in E. coli, the synthetic retinoid synthesis protein (SR), based on bacteriorhodopsin-related protein-like homolog (Blh) of the uncultured marine bacteria 66A03, showed the highest β-carotene cleavage activity with no residual intracellular β-carotene. By introducing the exogenous MVA pathway, 8.7 mg/L of retinal was produced, which is 4-fold higher production than that of augmenting the MEP pathway (dxs overexpression). There was a large gap between retinal production and β-carotene consumption using the exogenous MVA pathway; therefore, the retinal derivatives were analyzed. The derivatives, except for retinoic acid, that formed were identified, and the levels of retinal, retinol, and retinyl acetate were measured. Amounts as high as 95 mg/L retinoids were obtained from engineered E. coli DH5α harboring the synthetic SR gene and the exogenous MVA pathway in addition to dxs overexpression, which were cultured at 29°C for 72 hours with 2YT medium containing 2.0% (w/v) glycerol as the main carbon source. However, a significant level of intracellular degradation of the retinoids was also observed in the culture. To prevent degradation of the intracellular retinoids through in situ extraction from the cells, a two-phase culture system with dodecane was used. The highest level of retinoid production (136 mg/L) was obtained after 72 hours with 5 mL of dodecane overlaid on a 5 mL culture.
Conclusions
In this study, we successfully produced 136 mg/L retinoids, which were composed of 67 mg/L retinal, 54 mg/L retinol, and 15 mg/L retinyl acetate, using a two-phase culture system with dodecane, which produced 68-fold more retinoids than the initial level of production (2.2 mg/L). Our results demonstrate the potential use of E. coli as a promising microbial cell factory for retinoid production.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-10-59
PMCID: PMC3160355  PMID: 21801353
23.  Discovery of a metabolic alternative to the classical mevalonate pathway 
eLife  2013;2:e00672.
Eukarya, Archaea, and some Bacteria encode all or part of the essential mevalonate (MVA) metabolic pathway clinically modulated using statins. Curiously, two components of the MVA pathway are often absent from archaeal genomes. The search for these missing elements led to the discovery of isopentenyl phosphate kinase (IPK), one of two activities necessary to furnish the universal five-carbon isoprenoid building block, isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP). Unexpectedly, we now report functional IPKs also exist in Bacteria and Eukarya. Furthermore, amongst a subset of species within the bacterial phylum Chloroflexi, we identified a new enzyme catalyzing the missing decarboxylative step of the putative alternative MVA pathway. These results demonstrate, for the first time, a functioning alternative MVA pathway. Key to this pathway is the catalytic actions of a newly uncovered enzyme, mevalonate phosphate decarboxylase (MPD) and IPK. Together, these two discoveries suggest that unforeseen variation in isoprenoid metabolism may be widespread in nature.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.00672.001
eLife digest
Living things make thousands of chemicals that are vital for life, and are also useful as medicines, perfumes, and food additives. The largest family of these natural chemicals is called the isoprenoids, and members of this family are found in all three domains of life: the eukaryotes (such as plants and animals), the Archaea (an ancient group of single-celled microbes), and bacteria.
The isoprenoids are made from a smaller building block called isopentenyl diphosphate, IPP for short, that contains five carbon atoms and two phosphate groups. IPP can be produced in two ways. The classical mevalonate pathway is found in most eukaryotes, including humans; statin drugs are used to inhibit this pathway to treat those with high cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. The second pathway does not use the compound mevalonate and is found in many, but not all, bacteria as well as the chloroplasts of plants. Until recently, however, the enzymes needed for the last two steps of the classical mevalonate pathway appeared to be missing in the Archaea and in some bacteria.
Researchers subsequently discovered that an enzyme called isopentenyl phosphate kinase, shortened to IPK, was responsible for one of these two missing steps—the addition of IPP’s second phosphate group. The way this enzyme worked also suggested that there was an alternative mevalonate pathway in which the order of the last two steps was reversed. However, the identity of the enzyme responsible for the other step—the removal of a molecule of carbon dioxide to make the starting material needed by IPK—remained mysterious.
Now Dellas et al. have discovered the enzyme responsible for this missing step in Green non-sulphur bacteria, confirming the existence of the alternative mevalonate pathway for the first time. Previously it had been thought that this enzyme acted in the classical mevalonate pathway; but in fact this enzyme has evolved a new function and is not involved in the classical pathway at all. Moreover, Dellas et al. show that Green non-sulphur bacteria, and some eukaryotes, also have functional IPK enzymes. This means that IPK has now unexpectedly been observed in all three domains of life, and hints at another target to medically control mevalonate pathways. The discovery of the missing enzyme in the alternative pathway opens the door to the re-examination of many other living things, to find which have the new pathway and to work out why.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.00672.002
doi:10.7554/eLife.00672
PMCID: PMC3857490  PMID: 24327557
Mevalonate pathway; Isopentenyl diphosphate; Archaea; Mevalonate phosphate decarboxylase; Chloroflexi; Plants; Arabidopsis; Other
24.  1-Methylthio-D-Xylulose 5-Phosphate Methylsulfurylase: A Novel Route to 1-Deoxy-D-Xylulose 5-Phosphate in Rhodospirillum rubrum 
Biochemistry  2012;51(42):8324-8326.
Rhodospirillum rubrumproduces 5-methylthioadenosine (MTA) from S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) in polyamine biosynthesis; however, R. rubrum lacks the classical methionine salvage pathway. Instead, MTA is converted to 5-methylthio-D-ribose 1-phosphate (MTR 1-P) and adenine; MTR 1-P is isomerized to 1-methylthio-D-xylulose 5-phosphate (MTXu 5-P) and reductively dethiomethylated to 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate (DXP), an intermediate in the nonmevalonate isoprenoid pathway (Erb et al. Nature Chem. Biol., in press). Dethiomethylation, a novel route to DXP, is catalyzed by MTXu 5-P methylsulfurylase. An active site Cys displaces the enolate of DXP from MTXu 5-P, generating a methyl disulfide intermediate.
doi:10.1021/bi301215g
PMCID: PMC3490199  PMID: 23035785
25.  1-Deoxy-d-Xylulose 5-Phosphate Synthase, the Gene Product of Open Reading Frame (ORF) 2816 and ORF 2895 in Rhodobacter capsulatus 
Journal of Bacteriology  2001;183(1):1-11.
In eubacteria, green algae, and plant chloroplasts, isopentenyl diphosphate, a key intermediate in the biosynthesis of isoprenoids, is synthesized by the methylerythritol phosphate pathway. The five carbons of the basic isoprenoid unit are assembled by joining pyruvate and d-glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate. The reaction is catalyzed by the thiamine diphosphate-dependent enzyme 1-deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate synthase. In Rhodobacter capsulatus, two open reading frames (ORFs) carry the genes that encode 1-deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate synthase. ORF 2816 is located in the photosynthesis-related gene cluster, along with most of the genes required for synthesis of the photosynthetic machinery of the bacterium, whereas ORF 2895 is located elsewhere in the genome. The proteins encoded by ORF 2816 and ORF 2895, 1-deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate synthase A and B, containing a His6 tag, were synthesized in Escherichia coli and purified to greater than 95% homogeneity in two steps. 1-Deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate synthase A appears to be a homodimer with 68 kDa subunits. A new assay was developed, and the following steady-state kinetic constants were determined for 1-deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate synthase A and B: Kmpyruvate = 0.61 and 3.0 mM, Kmd-glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate = 150 and 120 μM, and Vmax = 1.9 and 1.4 μmol/min/mg in 200 mM sodium citrate (pH 7.4). The ORF encoding 1-deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate synthase B complemented the disrupted essential dxs gene in E. coli strain FH11.
doi:10.1128/JB.183.1.1-11.2001
PMCID: PMC94844  PMID: 11114895

Results 1-25 (241664)