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1.  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.
PMCID: PMC3209144  PMID: 21908638
2.  Analysis of the Cryptophycin P450 Epoxidase Reveals Substrate Tolerance and Cooperativity 
Cryptophycins are potent anticancer agents isolated from Nostoc sp. ATCC 53789 and Nostoc sp. GSV 224. The most potent natural cryptophycin analogues retain a β-epoxide at the C2′-C3′ position of the molecule. A P450 epoxidase encoded by crpE recently identified from the cryptophycin gene cluster was shown to install this key functional group into cryptophycin-4 (Cr-4) to produce cryptophycin-2 (Cr-2) in a regio- and stereospecific manner. Here we report a detailed characterization of the CrpE epoxidase using an engineered maltose binding protein (MBP)-CrpE fusion. The substrate tolerance of the CrpE polypeptide was investigated with a series of structurally related cryptophycin analogues generated by chemoenzymatic synthesis. The enzyme specifically installed a β-epoxide between C2′ and C3′ of cyclic cryptophycin analogues. The kcat/Km values of the enzyme were determined to provide further insights into the P450 epoxidase catalytic efficiency affected by substrate structural variation. Finally, binding analysis revealed cooperativity of MBP-CrpE toward natural and unnatural desepoxy cryptophycin substrates.
PMCID: PMC2697446  PMID: 18366166
3.  Molecular Basis for the Relative Substrate Specificity of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus Proteases 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(19):9458-9469.
We have used a random hexamer phage library to delineate similarities and differences between the substrate specificities of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) proteases (PRs). Peptide sequences were identified that were specifically cleaved by each protease, as well as sequences cleaved equally well by both enzymes. Based on amino acid distinctions within the P3-P3′ region of substrates that appeared to correlate with these cleavage specificities, we prepared a series of synthetic peptides within the framework of a peptide sequence cleaved with essentially the same efficiency by both HIV-1 and FIV PRs, Ac-KSGVF↓VVNGLVK-NH2 (arrow denotes cleavage site). We used the resultant peptide set to assess the influence of specific amino acid substitutions on the cleavage characteristics of the two proteases. The findings show that when Asn is substituted for Val at the P2 position, HIV-1 PR cleaves the substrate at a much greater rate than does FIV PR. Likewise, Glu or Gln substituted for Val at the P2′ position also yields peptides specifically susceptible to HIV-1 PR. In contrast, when Ser is substituted for Val at P1′, FIV PR cleaves the substrate at a much higher rate than does HIV-1 PR. In addition, Asn or Gln at the P1 position, in combination with an appropriate P3 amino acid, Arg, also strongly favors cleavage by FIV PR over HIV PR. Structural analysis identified several protease residues likely to dictate the observed specificity differences. Interestingly, HIV PR Asp30 (Ile-35 in FIV PR), which influences specificity at the S2 and S2′ subsites, and HIV-1 PR Pro-81 and Val-82 (Ile-98 and Gln-99 in FIV PR), which influence specificity at the S1 and S1′ subsites, are residues which are often involved in development of drug resistance in HIV-1 protease. The peptide substrate KSGVF↓VVNGK, cleaved by both PRs, was used as a template for the design of a reduced amide inhibitor, Ac-GSGVFΨ(CH2NH)VVNGL-NH2. This compound inhibited both FIV and HIV-1 PRs with approximately equal efficiency. These findings establish a molecular basis for distinctions in substrate specificity between human and feline lentivirus PRs and offer a framework for development of efficient broad-based inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC114513  PMID: 11533208

Results 1-3 (3)