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26.  The structure of Serratia marcescens Lip, a membrane-bound component of the type VI secretion system 
The high-resolution crystal structure of S. marcescens Lip reveals a new member of the transthyretin family of proteins. Lip, a core component of the type VI secretion apparatus, is localized to the outer membrane and is positioned to interact with other proteins forming this complex system.
Lip is a membrane-bound lipoprotein and a core component of the type VI secretion system found in Gram-negative bacteria. The structure of a Lip construct (residues 29–176) from Serratia marcescens (SmLip) has been determined at 1.92 Å resolution. Experimental phases were derived using a single-wavelength anomalous dispersion approach on a sample cocrystallized with iodide. The membrane localization of the native protein was confirmed. The structure is that of the globular domain lacking only the lipoprotein signal peptide and the lipidated N-terminus of the mature protein. The protein fold is dominated by an eight-stranded β-sandwich and identifies SmLip as a new member of the transthyretin family of proteins. Transthyretin and the only other member of the family fold, 5-hydroxyisourate hydrolase, form homo­tetramers important for their function. The asymmetric unit of SmLip is a tetramer with 222 symmetry, but the assembly is distinct from that previously noted for the transthyretin protein family. However, structural comparisons and bacterial two-hybrid data suggest that the SmLip tetramer is not relevant to its role as a core component of the type VI secretion system, but rather reflects a propensity for SmLip to participate in protein–protein interactions. A relatively low level of sequence conservation amongst Lip homologues is noted and is restricted to parts of the structure that might be involved in interactions with physiological partners.
PMCID: PMC3225178  PMID: 22120744
β-sandwich; Gram-negative pathogens; lipoproteins; protein secretion; transthyretin; virulence
27.  Pseudomonas aeruginosa 4-Amino-4-Deoxychorismate Lyase: Spatial Conservation of an Active Site Tyrosine and Classification of Two Types of Enzyme 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24158.
4-Amino-4-deoxychorismate lyase (PabC) catalyzes the formation of 4-aminobenzoate, and release of pyruvate, during folate biosynthesis. This is an essential activity for the growth of Gram-negative bacteria, including important pathogens such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa. A high-resolution (1.75 Å) crystal structure of PabC from P. aeruginosa has been determined, and sequence-structure comparisons with orthologous structures are reported. Residues around the pyridoxal 5′-phosphate cofactor are highly conserved adding support to aspects of a mechanism generic for enzymes carrying that cofactor. However, we suggest that PabC can be classified into two groups depending upon whether an active site and structurally conserved tyrosine is provided from the polypeptide that mainly forms an active site or from the partner subunit in the dimeric assembly. We considered that the conserved tyrosine might indicate a direct role in catalysis: that of providing a proton to reduce the olefin moiety of substrate as pyruvate is released. A threonine had previously been suggested to fulfill such a role prior to our observation of the structurally conserved tyrosine. We have been unable to elucidate an experimentally determined structure of PabC in complex with ligands to inform on mechanism and substrate specificity. Therefore we constructed a computational model of the catalytic intermediate docked into the enzyme active site. The model suggests that the conserved tyrosine helps to create a hydrophobic wall on one side of the active site that provides important interactions to bind the catalytic intermediate. However, this residue does not appear to participate in interactions with the C atom that undergoes an sp2 to sp3 conversion as pyruvate is produced. The model and our comparisons rather support the hypothesis that an active site threonine hydroxyl contributes a proton used in the reduction of the substrate methylene to pyruvate methyl in the final stage of the mechanism.
PMCID: PMC3174152  PMID: 21935381
28.  Crystal structure of Leishmania major ADP ribosylation factor-like 1 and a classification of related GTPase family members in this Kinetoplastid 
ADP ribosylation factor-like (ARL) proteins are small GTPases that undergo conformational changes upon nucleotide binding, and which regulate the affinity of ARLs for binding other proteins, lipids or membranes. There is a paucity of structural data on this family of proteins in the Kinetoplastida, despite studies implicating them in key events related to vesicular transport and regulation of microtubule dependent processes. The crystal structure of Leishmania major ARL1 in complex with GDP has been determined to 2.1 Å resolution and reveals a high degree of structural conservation with human ADP ribosylation factor 1 (ARF1). Putative L. major and Trypanosoma brucei ARF/ARL family members have been classified based on structural considerations, amino acid sequence conservation combined with functional data on Kinetoplastid and human orthologues. This classification may guide future studies designed to elucidate the function of specific family members.
PMCID: PMC3065712  PMID: 20801163
ADP ribosylation factor-like; GTPase; Leishmania; protein structure
29.  Crystal structures of Burkholderia cenocepacia dihydropteroate synthase in the apo-form and complexed with the product 7,8-dihydropteroate 
The enzyme dihydropteroate synthase (DHPS) participates in the de novo synthesis of folate cofactors by catalyzing the formation of 7,8-dihydropteroate from condensation of p-aminobenzoic acid with 6-hydroxymethyl-7,8-dihydropteroate pyrophosphate. DHPS is absent from humans, who acquire folates from diet, and has been validated as an antimicrobial therapeutic target by chemical and genetic means. The bacterium Burkholderia cenocepacia is an opportunistic pathogen and an infective agent of cystic fibrosis patients. The organism is highly resistant to antibiotics and there is a recognized need for the identification of new drugs against Burkholderia and related Gram-negative pathogens. Our characterization of the DHPS active site and interactions with the enzyme product are designed to underpin early stage drug discovery.
An efficient recombinant protein expression system for DHPS from B. cenocepacia (BcDHPS) was prepared, the dimeric enzyme purified in high yield and crystallized. The structure of the apo-enzyme and the complex with the product 7,8-dihydropteroate have been determined to 2.35 Å and 1.95 Å resolution respectively in distinct orthorhombic crystal forms. The latter represents the first crystal structure of the DHPS-pterin product complex, reveals key interactions involved in ligand binding, and reinforces data generated by other structural studies. Comparisons with orthologues identify plasticity near the substrate-binding pocket and in particular a range of loop conformations that contribute to the architecture of the DHPS active site. These structural data provide a foundation for hit discovery. An intriguing observation, an artifact of the analysis, that of a potential sulfenamide bond within the ligand complex structure is mentioned.
Structural similarities between BcDHPS and orthologues from other Gram-negative species are evident as expected on the basis of a high level of sequence identity. The presence of 7,8-dihydropteroate in the binding site provides details about ligand recognition by the enzyme and the different states of the enzyme allow us to visualize distinct conformational states of loops adjacent to the active site. Improved drugs to combat infections by Burkholderia sp. and related Gram-negative bacteria are sought and our study now provides templates to assist that process and allow us to discuss new ways of inhibiting DHPS.
PMCID: PMC3098144  PMID: 21554707
30.  Exploiting the high-resolution crystal structure of Staphylococcus aureus MenH to gain insight into enzyme activity 
MenH (2-succinyl-6-hydroxy-2,4-cyclohexadiene-1-carboxylate synthase) is a key enzyme in the biosynthesis of menaquinone, catalyzing an unusual 2,5-elimination of pyruvate from 2-succinyl-5-enolpyruvyl-6-hydroxy-3-cyclohexadiene-1-carboxylate.
The crystal structure of Staphylococcus aureus MenH has been determined at 2 Å resolution. In the absence of a complex to inform on aspects of specificity a model of the enzyme-substrate complex has been used in conjunction with previously published kinetic analyses, site-directed mutagenesis studies and comparisons with orthologues to investigate the structure and reactivity of MenH.
The overall basic active site displays pronounced hydrophobic character on one side and these properties complement those of the substrate. A complex network of hydrogen bonds involving well-ordered water molecules serves to position key residues participating in the recognition of substrate and subsequent catalysis. We propose a proton shuttle mechanism, reliant on a catalytic triad consisting of Ser89, Asp216 and His243. The reaction is initiated by proton abstraction from the substrate by an activated Ser89. The propensity to form a conjugated system provides the driving force for pyruvate elimination. During the elimination, a methylene group is converted to a methyl and we judge it likely that His243 provides a proton, previously acquired from Ser89 for that reduction. A conformational change of the protonated His243 may be encouraged by the presence of an anionic intermediate in the active site.
PMCID: PMC3097144  PMID: 21513522
31.  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
32.  Crystal Structures of Penicillin-Binding Protein 3 from Pseudomonas aeruginosa: Comparison of Native and Antibiotic-Bound Forms 
Journal of Molecular Biology  2011;405(1-3):173-184.
We report the first crystal structures of a penicillin-binding protein (PBP), PBP3, from Pseudomonas aeruginosa in native form and covalently linked to two important β-lactam antibiotics, carbenicillin and ceftazidime. Overall, the structures of apo and acyl complexes are very similar; however, variations in the orientation of the amino-terminal membrane-proximal domain relative to that of the carboxy-terminal transpeptidase domain indicate interdomain flexibility. Binding of either carbenicillin or ceftazidime to purified PBP3 increases the thermostability of the enzyme significantly and is associated with local conformational changes, which lead to a narrowing of the substrate-binding cleft. The orientations of the two β-lactams in the active site and the key interactions formed between the ligands and PBP3 are similar despite differences in the two drugs, indicating a degree of flexibility in the binding site. The conserved binding mode of β-lactam-based inhibitors appears to extend to other PBPs, as suggested by a comparison of the PBP3/ceftazidime complex and the Escherichia coli PBP1b/ceftoxamine complex. Since P. aeruginosa is an important human pathogen, the structural data reveal the mode of action of the frontline antibiotic ceftazidime at the molecular level. Improved drugs to combat infections by P. aeruginosa and related Gram-negative bacteria are sought and our study provides templates to assist that process and allows us to discuss new ways of inhibiting PBPs.
PMCID: PMC3025346  PMID: 20974151
PBP, penicillin-binding protein; HMM, high molecular mass; LMM, low molecular mass; PDB, Protein Data Bank; ESRF, European Synchrotron Radiation Facility; anti-bacterial; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; carbenicillin; ceftazidime; enzyme structure
33.  Structure of recombinant Leishmania donovani pteridine reductase reveals a disordered active site 
The structure of L. donovani pteridine reductase has been targeted to assist in a program of structure-based inhibitor research. Crystals that diffracted to 2.5 Å resolution were obtained and the structure has been solved. Unfortunately, the active site is disordered and this crystal form is unsuitable for use in characterizing enzyme–ligand interactions.
Pteridine reductase (PTR1) is a potential target for drug development against parasitic Trypanosoma and Leishmania species, protozoa that are responsible for a range of serious diseases found in tropical and subtropical parts of the world. As part of a structure-based approach to inhibitor development, specifically targeting Leishmania species, well ordered crystals of L. donovani PTR1 were sought to support the characterization of complexes formed with inhibitors. An efficient system for recombinant protein production was prepared and the enzyme was purified and crystallized in an orthorhombic form with ammonium sulfate as the precipitant. Diffraction data were measured to 2.5 Å resolution and the structure was solved by molecular replacement. However, a sulfate occupies a phosphate-binding site used by NADPH and occludes cofactor binding. The nicotinamide moiety is a critical component of the active site and without it this part of the structure is disordered. The crystal form obtained under these conditions is therefore unsuitable for the characterization of inhibitor complexes.
PMCID: PMC3079966  PMID: 21206018
antifolates; pteridine reductase; Leishmania; pterins; Trypanosoma
34.  Structure and Reactivity of Bacillus subtilis MenD Catalyzing the First Committed Step in Menaquinone Biosynthesis 
Journal of Molecular Biology  2010;401(2):253-264.
The first committed step in the classical biosynthetic route to menaquinone (vitamin K2) is a Stetter-like conjugate addition of α-ketoglutarate with isochorismate. This reaction is catalyzed by the thiamine diphosphate and metal-ion-dependent 2-succinyl-5-enolpyruvyl-6-hydroxy-3-cyclohexadiene-1-carboxylate synthase (MenD). The medium-resolution (2.35 Å) crystal structure of Bacillus subtilis MenD with cofactor and Mn2+ has been determined. Based on structure–sequence comparisons and modeling, a two-stage mechanism that is primarily driven by the chemical properties of the cofactor is proposed. Hypotheses for the molecular determinants of substrate recognition were formulated. Five basic residues (Arg32, Arg106, Arg409, Arg428, and Lys299) are postulated to interact with carboxylate and hydroxyl groups to align substrates for catalysis in combination with a cluster of non-polar residues (Ile489, Phe490, and Leu493) on one side of the active site. The powerful combination of site-directed mutagenesis, where each of the eight residues is replaced by alanine, and steady-state kinetic measurements has been exploited to address these hypotheses. Arg409 plays a significant role in binding both substrates while Arg428 contributes mainly to binding of α-ketoglutarate. Arg32 and in particular Arg106 are critical for recognition of isochorismate. Mutagenesis of Phe490 and Ile489 has the most profound influence on catalytic efficiency, indicating that these two residues are important for binding of isochorismate and for stabilizing the cofactor position. These data allow for a detailed description of the structure–reactivity relationship that governs MenD function and refinement of the model for the catalytic intermediate that supports the Stetter-like conjugate addition.
PMCID: PMC2914249  PMID: 20600129
CoA, coenzyme A; PDB, Protein Data Bank; SAD, single-wavelength anomalous diffraction; SEPHCHC, 2-succinyl-5-enolpyruvyl-6-hydroxy-3-cyclohexadiene-1-carboxylate; SeMet, selenomethionine; ThDP, thiamine diphosphate; PEG, polyethylene glycol; crystal structure; enzyme mechanism; menaquinone biosynthesis; thiamine diphosphate cofactor
35.  Structure of Staphylococcus aureus adenylo­succinate lyase (PurB) and assessment of its potential as a target for structure-based inhibitor discovery 
The 2.5 Å resolution structure of S. aureus adenylosuccinate lyase is reported and compared with those of orthologues to assess its potential as a template for early stage drug discovery. AMP and a putative assignment of oxalate, the latter an artefact possibly arising from an impurity in the PEG used for crystallization, occupy the active site.
The medium-resolution structure of adenylosuccinate lyase (PurB) from the bacterial pathogen Staphylococcus aureus in complex with AMP is presented. Oxalate, which is likely to be an artifact of crystallization, has been modelled in the active site and occupies a position close to that where succinate is observed in orthologous structures. PurB catalyzes reactions that support the provision of purines and the control of AMP/fumarate levels. As such, the enzyme is predicted to be essential for the survival of S. aureus and to be a potential therapeutic target. Comparisons of this pathogen PurB with the enzyme from Escherichia coli are presented to allow discussion concerning the enzyme mechanism. Comparisons with human PurB suggest that the close similarity of the active sites would make it difficult to identify species-specific inhibitors for this enyme. However, there are differences in the way that the subunits are assembled into dimers. The distinct subunit–subunit interfaces may provide a potential area to target by exploiting the observation that creation of the enzyme active site is dependent on oligomerization.
PMCID: PMC2917274  PMID: 20693687
adenylosuccinate lyase; AMP; oxalate; purine biosynthesis; purine cycle
36.  Structure of Trypanosoma brucei glutathione synthetase: Domain and loop alterations in the catalytic cycle of a highly conserved enzyme 
Graphical abstract
The close similarity of Trypanosoma brucei glutathione synthetase to the human orthologue indicates that the enzyme would be a difficult target for drug discovery.
Glutathione synthetase catalyses the synthesis of the low molecular mass thiol glutathione from l-γ-glutamyl-l-cysteine and glycine. We report the crystal structure of the dimeric enzyme from Trypanosoma brucei in complex with the product glutathione. The enzyme belongs to the ATP-grasp family, a group of enzymes known to undergo conformational changes upon ligand binding. The T. brucei enzyme crystal structure presents two dimers in the asymmetric unit. The structure reveals variability in the order and position of a small domain, which forms a lid for the active site and serves to capture conformations likely to exist during the catalytic cycle. Comparisons with orthologous enzymes, in particular from Homo sapiens and Saccharomyces cerevisae, indicate a high degree of sequence and structure conservation in part of the active site. Structural differences that are observed between the orthologous enzymes are assigned to different ligand binding states since key residues are conserved. This suggests that the molecular determinants of ligand recognition and reactivity are highly conserved across species. We conclude that it would be difficult to target the parasite enzyme in preference to the host enzyme and therefore glutathione synthetase may not be a suitable target for antiparasitic drug discovery.
PMCID: PMC2845819  PMID: 20045436
AMP-PNP, adenylyl imidodiphosphate; GS, glutathione synthetase; GSH, glutathione; HEPES, 4-(2-hydroxyethyl)piperazine-1-ethanesulfonic acid, N-(2-hydroxyethyl)piperazine-N-(2-ethanesulfonic acid); MOPS, 3-(N-morpholino)-propanesulfonic acid; NCS, non-crystallographic symmetry; Tb, Trypanosoma brucei; TEV, tobacco etch virus; TLS, translation/libration/screw; TSA, trypanothione synthetase; T[SH]2, trypanothione; ATP-grasp; Glutathione; Glutathione synthetase; Trypanosoma brucei; Trypanothione; X-ray structure
37.  Structure-Based Design of Pteridine Reductase Inhibitors Targeting African Sleeping Sickness and the Leishmaniases† 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2009;53(1):221-229.
Pteridine reductase (PTR1) is a target for drug development against Trypanosoma and Leishmania species, parasites that cause serious tropical diseases and for which therapies are inadequate. We adopted a structure-based approach to the design of novel PTR1 inhibitors based on three molecular scaffolds. A series of compounds, most newly synthesized, were identified as inhibitors with PTR1-species specific properties explained by structural differences between the T. brucei and L. major enzymes. The most potent inhibitors target T. brucei PTR1, and two compounds displayed antiparasite activity against the bloodstream form of the parasite. PTR1 contributes to antifolate drug resistance by providing a molecular bypass of dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) inhibition. Therefore, combining PTR1 and DHFR inhibitors might improve therapeutic efficacy. We tested two new compounds with known DHFR inhibitors. A synergistic effect was observed for one particular combination highlighting the potential of such an approach for treatment of African sleeping sickness.
PMCID: PMC2804273  PMID: 19916554
38.  Structure of Staphylococcus aureus 1,4-dihydroxy-2-naphthoyl-CoA synthase (MenB) in complex with acetoacetyl-CoA 
The structure of S. aureus MenB, an enzyme in the biosynthetic pathway to vitamin K2, has been determined and compared with the enzyme derived from another important pathogen, M. tuberculosis.
Vitamin K2, or menaquinone, is an essential cofactor for many organisms and the enzymes involved in its biosynthesis are potential antimicrobial drug targets. One of these enzymes, 1,4-dihydroxy-2-naphthoyl-CoA synthase (MenB) from the pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, has been obtained in recombinant form and its quaternary structure has been analyzed in solution. Cubic crystals of the enzyme allowed a low-resolution structure (2.9 Å) to be determined. The asymmetric unit consists of two subunits and a crystallographic threefold axis of symmetry generates a hexamer consistent with size-exclusion chromatography. Analytical ultracentrifugation indicates the presence of six states in solution, monomeric through to hexameric, with the dimer noted as being particularly stable. MenB displays the crotonase-family fold with distinct N- and C-terminal domains and a flexible segment of structure around the active site. The smaller C-terminal domain plays an important role in oligomerization and also in substrate binding. The presence of acetoacetyl-CoA in one of the two active sites present in the asymmetric unit indicates how part of the substrate binds and facilitates comparisons with the structure of Mycobacterium tuberculosis MenB.
PMCID: PMC2339762  PMID: 18007038
crotonase; synthase; vitamin biosynthesis; menaquinone; MenB
39.  Structure-based Ligand Design and the Promise Held for Antiprotozoan Drug Discovery* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2009;284(18):11749-11753.
The development of the pharmaceutical industry, driven by progress in chemistry, biology, and technology, ranks as one of the most successful of human endeavors. However, serious health problems persist, among which are diseases caused by protozoan parasites, largely ignored in modern times. Advances in genomic sciences, molecular and structural biology, and computational and medicinal chemistry now set the scene for a renewed assault on such infections. A structure-centric approach to support discovery of antiparasitic compounds promises much. Current strategies and benefits of a structure-based approach to support early stage drug discovery will be described.
PMCID: PMC2673241  PMID: 19103598
40.  Geobacillus stearothermophilus 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase complexed with 6-phosphogluconate 
The structure of 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase from a moderate thermophile, G. stearothermophilus, is presented and compared with those of orthologous enzymes.
Two crystal structures of recombinant Geobacillus stearothermophilus 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase (Gs6PDH) in complex with the substrate 6-­phosphogluconate have been determined at medium resolution. Gs6PDH shares significant sequence identity and structural similarity with the enzymes from Lactococcus lactis, sheep liver and the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma brucei, for which a range of structures have previously been reported. Comparisons indicate that amino-acid sequence conservation is more pronounced in the two domains that contribute to the architecture of the active site, namely the N-terminal and C-terminal domains, compared with the central domain, which is primarily involved in the subunit–subunit associations required to form a stable dimer. The active-site residues are highly conserved, as are the interactions with the 6-phosphogluconate. There is interest in 6PDH as a potential drug target for the protozoan parasite T. brucei, the pathogen responsible for African sleeping sickness. The recombinant T. brucei enzyme has proven to be recalcitrant to enzyme–ligand studies and a surrogate protein might offer new opportunities to investigate and characterize 6PDH inhibitors. The high degree of structural similarity, efficient level of expression and straightforward crystallization conditions mean that Gs6PDH may prove to be an appropriate model system for structure-based inhibitor design targeting the enzyme from Trypanosoma species.
PMCID: PMC2675582  PMID: 19407374
pentose phosphate pathway; 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase; Geobacillus stearothermophilus
41.  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
42.  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
43.  Biochemical characterization of the initial steps of the Kennedy pathway in Trypanosoma brucei: the ethanolamine and choline kinases 
Biochemical Journal  2008;415(Pt 1):135-144.
Ethanolamine and choline are major components of the trypanosome membrane phospholipids, in the form of GPEtn (glycerophosphoethanolamine) and GPCho (glycerophosphocholine). Ethanolamine is also found as an integral component of the GPI (glycosylphosphatidylinositol) anchor that is required for membrane attachment of cell-surface proteins, most notably the variant-surface glycoproteins. The de novo synthesis of GPEtn and GPCho starts with the generation of phosphoethanolamine and phosphocholine by ethanolamine and choline kinases via the Kennedy pathway. Database mining revealed two putative C/EKs (choline/ethanolamine kinases) in the Trypanosoma brucei genome, which were cloned, overexpressed, purified and characterized. TbEK1 (T. brucei ethanolamine kinase 1) was shown to be catalytically active as an ethanolamine-specific kinase, i.e. it had no choline kinase activity. The Km values for ethanolamine and ATP were found to be 18.4±0.9 and 219±29 μM respectively. TbC/EK2 (T. brucei choline/ethanolamine kinase 2), on the other hand, was found to be able to phosphorylate both ethanolamine and choline, even though choline was the preferred substrate, with a Km 80 times lower than that of ethanolamine. The Km values for choline, ethanolamine and ATP were 31.4±2.6 μM, 2.56±0.31 mM and 20.6±1.96 μM respectively. Further substrate specificity analysis revealed that both TbEK1 and TbC/EK2 were able to tolerate various modifications at the amino group, with the exception of a quaternary amine for TbEK1 (choline) and a primary amine for TbC/EK2 (ethanolamine). Both enzymes recognized analogues with substituents on C-2, but substitutions on C-1 and elongations of the carbon chain were not well tolerated.
PMCID: PMC2552378  PMID: 18489261
choline kinase; ethanolamine kinase; Kennedy pathway; Trypanosoma brucei; C/EK, choline/ethanolamine kinase; EK, ethanolamine kinase; GPCho, glycerophosphocholine; GPEtn, glycerophosphoethanolamine; GPI, glycosylphosphatidylinositol; GPSer, glycerophosphoserine; HPTLC, high-performance TLC; LB, Luria–Bertani; MALDI, matrix-assisted laser-desorption ionization; ORF, open reading frame; PtdCho, phosphotidylcholine; PtdEtn, phosphatidylethanolamine; RT, reverse transcription; Tb, Trypanosome brucei; TEV, tobacco etch virus; TOF, time-of-flight; UTR, untranslated region; VSG, variant-surface glycoprotein
44.  Leishmania Trypanothione Synthetase-Amidase Structure Reveals a Basis for Regulation of Conflicting Synthetic and Hydrolytic Activities*S⃞ 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2008;283(25):17672-17680.
The bifunctional trypanothione synthetase-amidase catalyzes biosynthesis and hydrolysis of the glutathione-spermidine adduct trypanothione, the principal intracellular thiol-redox metabolite in parasitic trypanosomatids. These parasites are unique with regard to their reliance on trypanothione to determine intracellular thiol-redox balance in defense against oxidative and chemical stress and to regulate polyamine levels. Enzymes involved in trypanothione biosynthesis provide essential biological activities, and those absent from humans or for which orthologues are sufficiently distinct are attractive targets to underpin anti-parasitic drug discovery. The structure of Leishmania major trypanothione synthetase-amidase, determined in three crystal forms, reveals two catalytic domains. The N-terminal domain, a cysteine, histidine-dependent amidohydrolase/peptidase amidase, is a papain-like cysteine protease, and the C-terminal synthetase domain displays an ATP-grasp family fold common to C:N ligases. Modeling of substrates into each active site provides insight into the specificity and reactivity of this unusual enzyme, which is able to catalyze four reactions. The domain orientation is distinct from that observed in a related bacterial glutathionylspermidine synthetase. In trypanothione synthetase-amidase, the interactions formed by the C terminus, binding in and restricting access to the amidase active site, suggest that the balance of ligation and hydrolytic activity is directly influenced by the alignment of the domains with respect to each other and implicate conformational changes with amidase activity. The potential inhibitory role of the C terminus provides a mechanism to control relative levels of the critical metabolites, trypanothione, glutathionylspermidine, and spermidine in Leishmania.
PMCID: PMC2427367  PMID: 18420578
45.  TarO: a target optimisation system for structural biology 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;36(Web Server issue):W190-W196.
TarO ( offers a single point of reference for key bioinformatics analyses relevant to selecting proteins or domains for study by structural biology techniques. The protein sequence is analysed by 17 algorithms and compared to 8 databases. TarO gathers putative homologues, including orthologues, and then obtains predictions of properties for these sequences including crystallisation propensity, protein disorder and post-translational modifications. Analyses are run on a high-performance computing cluster, the results integrated, stored in a database and accessed through a web-based user interface. Output is in tabulated format and in the form of an annotated multiple sequence alignment (MSA) that may be edited interactively in the program Jalview. TarO also simplifies the gathering of additional annotations via the Distributed Annotation System, both from the MSA in Jalview and through links to Dasty2. Routes to other information gateways are included, for example to relevant pages from UniProt, COG and the Conserved Domains Database. Open access to TarO is available from a guest account with private accounts for academic use available on request. Future development of TarO will include further analysis steps and integration with the Protein Information Management System (PIMS), a sister project in the BBSRC ‘Structural Proteomics of Rational Targets’ initiative
PMCID: PMC2447720  PMID: 18385152
46.  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
47.  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
48.  A double mutation of Escherichia coli 2C-methyl-d-erythritol-2,4-cyclodiphosphate synthase disrupts six hydrogen bonds with, yet fails to prevent binding of, an isoprenoid diphosphate 
A double mutation designed to disrupt binding of isoprenoid diphosphate to an enzyme involved in isoprenoid biosynthesis was made and the structure determined. Despite the removal of six hydrogen-bonding interactions, the ligand, acquired during production in E. coli, remains bound. The reasons for this are discussed.
The essential enzyme 2C-methyl-d-erythritol-2,4-cyclodiphosphate (MECP) synthase, found in most eubacteria and the apicomplexan parasites, participates in isoprenoid-precursor biosynthesis and is a validated target for the development of broad-spectrum antimicrobial drugs. The structure and mechanism of the enzyme have been elucidated and the recent exciting finding that the enzyme actually binds diphosphate-containing isoprenoids at the interface formed by the three subunits that constitute the active protein suggests the possibility of feedback regulation of MECP synthase. To investigate such a possibility, a form of the enzyme was sought that did not bind these ligands but which would retain the quaternary structure necessary to create the active site. Two amino acids, Arg142 and Glu144, in Escherichia coli MECP synthase were identified as contributing to ligand binding. Glu144 interacts directly with Arg142 and positions the basic residue to form two hydrogen bonds with the terminal phosphate group of the isoprenoid diphosphate ligand. This association occurs at the trimer interface and three of these arginines interact with the ligand phosphate group. A dual mutation was designed (Arg142 to methionine and Glu144 to leucine) to disrupt the electrostatic attractions between the enzyme and the phosphate group to investigate whether an enzyme without isoprenoid diphosphate could be obtained. A low-resolution crystal structure of the mutated MECP synthase Met142/Leu144 revealed that geranyl diphosphate was retained despite the removal of six hydrogen bonds normally formed with the enzyme. This indicates that these two hydrophilic residues on the surface of the enzyme are not major determinants of isoprenoid binding at the trimer interface but rather that hydrophobic interactions between the hydrocarbon tail and the core of the enzyme trimer dominate ligand binding.
PMCID: PMC1952448  PMID: 16511114
MECP synthase; site-directed mutagenesis; isoprenoid biosynthesis
49.  A preliminary crystallographic analysis of the putative mevalonate diphosphate decarboxylase from Trypanosoma brucei  
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.
PMCID: PMC1952329  PMID: 16511101
decarboxylases; mevalonate biosynthesis; isoprenoids; Trypanosoma
50.  Initiating a crystallographic analysis of recombinant (S)-2-hydroxypropylphosphonic acid epoxidase from Streptomyces wedmorensis  
The gene encoding the unusual metal-ion-dependent epoxidase involved in fosfomycin biosynthesis, S. wedmorensis (S)-2-hydroxypropylphosphonic acid epoxidase, has been cloned and the protein expressed, purified and crystallized. Two crystal forms have been obtained, one of which diffracts to high resolution.
The oxirane (1R,2S)-1,2-epoxypropylphosphonic acid (fosfomycin) is a natural product antibiotic produced in Streptomyces wedmorensis by the metal-ion-dependent (S)-2-hydroxypropylphosphonic acid epoxidase. This epoxidase is highly unusual since it has no requirement for a haem prosthetic group. The gene encoding the enzyme, fom4, has been cloned and a highly efficient recombinant source of the enzyme established. Two different crystal forms, tetragonal and hexagonal, have been obtained. The hexagonal form displays symmetry consistent with space group P61/522 and unit-cell parameters a = 86.44, c = 221.56 Å, γ = 120°. The Matthews coefficient, V M, of 2.7 Å3 Da−1 corresponds to two subunits, each of approximate weight 21.4 kDa, in the asymmetric unit with 55% solvent content. These crystals diffract to high resolution and experimental phases are being sought to determine the structure.
PMCID: PMC1952317  PMID: 16511089
antibiotics; epoxidases; metalloenzymes; Streptomyces

Results 26-50 (62)