have obtained the structure of the bacterial diterpene synthase,
tuberculosinol/iso-tuberculosinol synthase (Rv3378c)
from Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a
target for anti-infective therapies that block virulence factor formation.
This phosphatase adopts the same fold as found in the Z- or cis-prenyltransferases. We also obtained structures
containing the tuberculosinyl diphosphate substrate together with
one bisphosphonate inhibitor-bound structure. These structures together
with the results of site-directed mutagenesis suggest an unusual mechanism
of action involving two Tyr residues. Given the similarity in local
and global structure between Rv3378c and the M. tuberculosis cis-decaprenyl diphosphate synthase (DPPS; Rv2361c),
the possibility exists for the development of inhibitors that target
not only virulence but also cell wall biosynthesis, based in part
on the structures reported here.
Many bacterial pathogens utilize the 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate pathway for biosynthesizing isoprenoid precursors, a pathway that is vital for bacterial survival and absent from human cells, providing a potential source of drug targets. However, the characterization of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol (CDP-ME) kinase (IspE) has been hindered due to a lack of enantiopure CDP-ME and difficulty in obtaining pure IspE. Here, enantiopure CDP-ME was chemically synthesized and recombinant IspE from bacterial pathogens were purified and characterized. Although gene disruption was not possible in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, IspE is essential in Mycobacterium smegmatis. The biochemical and kinetic characteristics of IspE provide the basis for development of a high throughput screen and structural characterization.
Since the peptidoglycan isolated from Mycobacterium spp. is refractory to commercially available murolytic enzymes, possibly due to the presence of various modifications found on this peptidoglycan, the utility of a mycobacteriophage-derived murolytic enzyme was assessed for an analysis of peptidoglycan from mycobacteria. We cloned, expressed, and purified the lysA gene product, a protein with homology to known peptidoglycan-degrading amidases, from bacteriophage Ms6. The recombinant protein was shown to cleave the bond between l-Ala and d-muramic acid of muramyl pentapeptide and to release up to 70% of the diaminopimelic acid present in the isolated mycobacterial cell wall. In contrast to lysozyme, which, in culture, inhibits the growth of both Mycobacterium smegmatis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis, LysA had no effect on the growth of either species. However, the enzyme is useful for solubilizing the peptide chains of isolated mycobacterial peptidoglycan for analysis. The data indicate that the stem peptides from M. smegmatis are heavily amidated, containing few free carboxylic acids, regardless of the cross-linking status.
Prokaryotic cell wall biosynthesis is coordinated with cell growth and division, but the mechanisms regulating this dynamic process remain obscure. Here, we describe a phosphorylation-dependent regulatory complex that controls peptidoglycan (PG) biosynthesis in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. We found that PknB, a PG-responsive Ser-Thr protein kinase (STPK), initiates complex assembly by phosphorylating a kinase-like domain in the essential PG biosynthetic protein, MviN. This domain was structurally diverged from active kinases and did not mediate phosphotransfer. Threonine phosphorylation of the pseudokinase domain recruited the FhaA protein through its forkhead-associated (FHA) domain. The crystal structure of this phosphorylated pseudokinase–FHA domain complex revealed the basis of FHA domain recognition, which included unexpected contacts distal to the phosphorylated threonine. Conditional degradation of these proteins in mycobacteria demonstrated that MviN was essential for growth and PG biosynthesis and that FhaA regulated these processes at the cell poles and septum. Controlling this spatially localized PG regulatory complex is only one of several cellular roles ascribed to PknB, suggesting that the capacity to coordinate signaling across multiple processes is an important feature conserved between eukaryotic and prokaryotic STPK networks.
Aurachin RE (1) is a strong antibiotic that was recently found to possess MenA (1,4-dihydroxy-2-naphthoate prenyltransferase) and bacterial electron transport inhibitory activities. Aurachin RE is the only molecule in a series of aurachin natural products that has the chiral center in the alkyl side chain at C9′-position. To identify selective MenA inhibitors against Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a series of chiral molecules were designed based on the structures of previously identified MenA inhibitors and 1. The synthesized molecules were evaluated in in vitro assays including MenA enzyme and bacterial growth inhibitory assays. We could identify novel MenA inhibitors that showed significant increase in potency of killing non-replicating M. tuberculosis in the low oxygen recovery assay (LORA) without inhibiting other Gram-positive bacterial growth even at high concentrations. The MenA inhibitors reported here are useful new pharmacophores for the development of selective antimycobacterial agents with strong activity against non-replicating M. tuberculosis.
New antimycobacterial agent; Menaquinone biosynthesis inhibitor; MDR Mycobacterium tuberculosis; Non-replicating Mycobacterium tuberculosis; TB drugs; quinolone alkaloid; aurachin RE
1-Deoxy-D-xylulose-5-phosphate reductoisomerase (DXR) is a novel target for developing new antibacterial (including anti-tuberculosis) and antimalaria drugs. 41 lipophilic phosphonates, representing a new class of DXR inhibitors, were synthesized, among which 5-phenylpyridin-2-ylmethylphosphonic acid possesses the most activity against E. coli DXR (EcDXR) with a Ki of 420 nM. Structure activity relationships (SAR) are discussed, which can be rationalized using our EcDXR:inhibitor structures, and a predictive quantitative SAR (QSAR) model is also developed. Since inhibition studies of DXR from Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MtDXR) have not been well performed, 48 EcDXR inhibitors with a broad chemical diversity were found, however, to generally exhibit considerably reduced activity against MtDXR. The crystal structure of a MtDXR:inhibitor complex reveals the flexible loop containing the residues 198–208 has no strong interactions with the 3,4-dichlorophenyl group of the inhibitor, representing a structural basis for the reduced activity. Overall, these results provide implications in the future design and development of potent DXR inhibitors.
Lipoarabinomannan (LAM) is a structurally heterogeneous amphipathic lipoglycan present in Mycobacterium spp. and other actinomycetes, which constitutes a major component of the cell wall and exhibits a wide spectrum of immunomodulatory effects. Analysis of Mycobacterium smegmatis subcellular fractions and spheroplasts showed that LAM and lipomannan (LM) were primarily found in a cell wall-enriched subcellular fraction and correlated with the presence (or absence) of the mycolic acids in spheroplast preparations, suggesting that LAM and LM are primarily associated with the putative outer membrane of mycobacteria. During the course of these studies significant changes in the LAM/LM content of the cell wall were noted relative to the age of the culture. The LAM content of the M. smegmatis cell wall was dramatically reduced as the bacilli approached stationary phase, whereas LM, mycolic acid, and arabinogalactan content appeared to be unchanged. In addition, cell morphology and acid-fast staining characteristics showed variations with growth phase of the bacteria. In the logarithmic phase, the bacteria were found to be classic rod-shaped acid-fast bacilli, while in the stationary phase M. smegmatis lost the characteristic rod shape and developed a punctate acid-fast staining pattern with carbolfuchsin. The number of viable bacteria was independent of LAM content and phenotype. Taken together, the results presented here suggest that LAM is primarily localized with the mycolic acids in the cell wall and that the cellular concentration of LAM in M. smegmatis is selectively modulated with the growth phase.
Arabinosyltransferases are a family of membrane-bound glycosyltransferases involved in the biosynthesis of the arabinan segment of two key glycoconjugates, arabinogalactan and lipoarabinomannan, in the mycobacterial cell wall. All arabinosyl-transferases identified have been found to be essential for the growth of Mycobcterium tuberculosis and are potential targets for developing new antituberculosis drugs. Technical bottlenecks in designing enzyme assays for screening for inhibitors of these enzymes are (1) the enzymes are membrane proteins and refractory to isolation; and (2) the sole arabinose donor, decaprenylphosphoryl-d-arabinofuranose is sparingly produced and difficult to isolate, and commercial substrates are not available. In this study, we have synthesized several analogues of decaprenylphosphoryl-d-arabinofuranose by varying the chain length and investigated their arabinofuranose (Araf) donating capacity. In parallel, an essential arabinosyltransferase (AftC), an enzyme that introduces α-(1→3) branch points in the internal arabinan domain in both arabinogalactan and lipoarabinomannan synthesis, has been expressed, solubilized, and purified for the first time. More importantly, it has been shown that the AftC is active only when reconstituted in a proteoliposome using mycobacterial phospholipids and has a preference for diacylated phosphatidylinositoldimannoside (Ac2PIM2), a major cell wall associated glycolipid. α-(1→3) branched arabinans were generated when AftC–liposome complex was used in assays with the (Z,Z)-farnesylphosphoryl d-arabinose linear α-d-Araf-(1→5)3–5 oligosaccharide acceptors and not with the acceptor that had a α-(1→3) branch point preintroduced.
The DosR regulon in Mycobacterium tuberculosis is involved in respiration-limiting conditions, its induction is controlled by two histidine kinases, DosS and DosT, and recent experimental evidence indicates DosS senses either molecular oxygen or a redox change. Under aerobic conditions, induction of the DosR regulon by DosS, but not DosT, was observed after the addition of ascorbate, a powerful cytochrome c reductant, demonstrating that DosS responds to a redox signal even in the presence of high oxygen tension. During hypoxic conditions, regulon induction was attenuated by treatment with compounds that occluded electron flow into the menaquinone pool or decreased the size of the menaquinone pool itself. Increased regulon expression during hypoxia was observed when exogenous menaquinone was added, demonstrating that the menaquinone pool is a limiting factor in regulon induction. Taken together, these data demonstrate that a reduced menaquinone pool directly or indirectly triggers induction of the DosR regulon via DosS. Biochemical analysis of menaquinones upon entry into hypoxic/anaerobic conditions demonstrated the disappearance of the unsaturated species and low-level maintenance of the mono-saturated menaquinone. Relative to the unsaturated form, an analog of the saturated form is better able to induce signaling via DosS and rescue inhibition of menaquinone synthesis and is less toxic. The menaquinone pool is central to the electron transport system (ETS) and therefore provides a mechanistic link between the respiratory state of the bacilli and DosS signaling. Although this report demonstrates that DosS responds to a reduced ETS, it does not rule out a role for oxygen in silencing signaling.
Many pathogenic bacteria utilize the 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway for the biosynthesis of isopentenyl diphosphate and dimethylallyl diphosphate, two major building blocks of isoprenoid compounds. The fifth enzyme in the MEP pathway, 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 2,4-cyclodiphosphate (ME-CPP) synthase (IspF), catalyzes the conversion of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 2-phosphate (CDP-ME2P) to ME-CPP with a corresponding release of cytidine 5-monophosphate (CMP). Since there is no ortholog of IspF in human cells IspF is of interest as a potential drug target. However, study of IspF has been hindered by a lack of enantiopure CDP-ME2P. Herein, we report the first synthesis of enantiomerically pure CDP-ME2P from commercially available D-arabinose. Cloned, expressed, and purified M. tuberculosis IspF was able to utilize the synthetic CDP-ME2P as a substrate, a result confirmed by mass spectrometry. A convenient, sensitive, in vitro IspF assay was developed by coupling the CMP released during production of ME-CPP to mononucleotide kinase, which can be used for high throughput screening.
Sensing and responding to environmental changes is a central aspect of cell division regulation. Mycobacterium tuberculosis contains eleven Ser/Thr kinases, two of which, PknA and PknB, are key signaling molecules that regulate cell division/morphology. One substrate of these kinases is Wag31, and we previously showed that partial depletion of Wag31 caused morphological changes indicative of cell wall defects, and that the phosphorylation state of Wag31 affected cell growth in mycobacteria. In the present study, we further characterized the role of the Wag31 phosphorylation in polar peptidoglycan biosynthesis.
We demonstrate that the differential growth among cells expressing different wag31 alleles (wild-type, phosphoablative, or phosphomimetic) is caused by, at least in part, dissimilar nascent peptidoglycan biosynthesis. The phosphorylation state of Wag31 is found to be important for protein-protein interactions between the Wag31 molecules, and thus, for its polar localization. Consistent with these results, cells expressing a phosphomimetic wag31 allele have a higher enzymatic activity in the peptidoglycan biosynthetic pathway.
The Wag31Mtb phosphorylation is a novel molecular mechanism by which Wag31Mtb regulates peptidoglycan synthesis and thus, optimal growth in mycobacteria.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis synthesizes isoprenoids via the nonmevalonate or DOXP pathway. Previous work demonstrated that three enzymes in the pathway (Dxr, IspD, and IspF) are all required for growth in vitro. We demonstrate the essentiality of the key genes dxs1 and gcpE, confirming that the pathway is of central importance and that the second homolog of the synthase (dxs2) cannot compensate for the loss of dxs1. We looked at the effect of overexpression of Dxr, Dxs1, Dxs2, and GcpE on viability and on growth in M. tuberculosis. Overexpression of dxs1 or dxs2 was inhibitory to growth, whereas overexpression of dxr or gcpE was not. Toxicity is likely to be, at least partially, due to depletion of pyruvate from the cells. Overexpression of dxs1 or gcpE resulted in increased flux through the pathway, as measured by accumulation of the metabolite 4-hydroxy-3-methyl-but-2-enyl pyrophosphate. We identified the functional translational start site and promoter region for dxr and demonstrated that it is expressed as part of a polycistronic mRNA with gcpE and two other genes. Increased expression of this operon was seen in cells overexpressing Dxs1, indicating that transcriptional control is effected by the first enzyme of the pathway via an unknown regulator.
A unique hallmark of tuberculosis is the granulomatous lesions formed in the lung. Granulomas can be heterogeneous in nature and can develop a necrotic, hypoxic core which is surrounded by an acellular, fibrotic rim. Studying bacilli in this in vivo microenvironment is problematic as Mycobacterium tuberculosis can change its phenotype and also become acid-fast negative. Under in vitro models of differing environments, M. tuberculosis alters its metabolism, transcriptional profile and rate of replication. In this study, we investigated whether these phenotypic adaptations of M. tuberculosis are unique for certain environmental conditions and if they could therefore be used as differential markers. Bacilli were studied using fluorescent acid-fast auramine-rhodamine targeting the mycolic acid containing cell wall, and immunofluorescence targeting bacterial proteins using an anti-M. tuberculosis whole cell lysate polyclonal antibody. These techniques were combined and simultaneously applied to M. tuberculosis in vitro culture samples and to lung sections of M. tuberculosis infected mice and guinea pigs. Two phenotypically different subpopulations of M. tuberculosis were found in stationary culture whilst three subpopulations were found in hypoxic culture and in lung sections. Bacilli were either exclusively acid-fast positive, exclusively immunofluorescent positive or acid-fast and immunofluorescent positive. These results suggest that M. tuberculosis exists as multiple populations in most conditions, even within seemingly a single microenvironment. This is relevant information for approaches that study bacillary characteristics in pooled samples (using lipidomics and proteomics) as well as in M. tuberculosis drug development.
Enantiomerically pure 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate 1 (MEP) is synthesized from 1,2-O-isopropylidene-α-D-xylofuranose via facile benzylation in good yield. Subsequently, 1 is used for enzymatic synthesis of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 2 (CDP-ME) using 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol synthase (IspD). The chemoenzymatically synthesized 2 can be used as substrate for assay of IspE and for high throughput screening to identify IspE inhibitors.
Tuberculosis (TB) is still a major public health problem, compounded by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-TB co-infection and recent emergence of multidrug-resistant (MDR) and extensive drug resistant (XDR)-TB. Novel anti-TB drugs are urgently required. In this context, the 2C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway of Mycobacterium tuberculosis has drawn attention; it is one of several pathways vital for M. tuberculosis viability and the human host lacks homologous enzymes. Thus, the MEP pathway promises bacterium-specific drug targets and the potential for identification of lead compounds unencumbered by target-based toxicity. Indeed, fosmidomycin is now known to inhibit the second step in the MEP pathway. This review describes the cardinal features of the main enzymes of the MEP pathway in M. tuberculosis and how these can be manipulated in high throughput screening campaigns in the search for new anti-infectives against TB.
Tuberculosis; 2C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate pathway; high throughput screening campaigns; anti-infectives
In Mycobacterium tuberculosis two related Z-prenyl diphosphate synthases, E,Z-farnesyl diphosphate synthase (Rv1086) and decaprenyl diphosphate synthase (Rv2361c) work in series to synthesize decaprenyl phosphate (C50) from isopentenyl diphosphate and E-geranyl diphosphate. Decaprenyl phosphate plays a central role in the biosynthesis of essential mycobacterial cell wall components, such as the mycolyl-arabinogalactan-peptidoglycan complex and lipoarabinomannan; thus, its synthesis has attracted considerable interest as a potential therapeutic target. Rv1086 is a unique prenyl diphosphate synthase in that it adds only one isoprene unit to geranyl diphosphate generating the 15 carbon product (E,Z-farnesyl diphosphate). Rv2361c then adds a further 7 isoprene units to E,Z-farnesyl diphosphate in a processive manner to generate the 50 carbon prenyl diphosphate, which is then dephosphorylated to generate a carrier for activated sugars. The molecular basis for chain length discrimination by Rv1086 during synthesis is unknown. We also report the structure of apo Rv1086 with citronellyl diphosphate bound and with the product mimic E,E-farnesyl diphosphate bound. We report the structures of Rv2361c in the apo form, with isopentyl diphosphate bound and with a substrate analogue, citronellyl diphosphate. The structures confirm the enzymes are very closely related. Detailed comparison reveals structural differences that account for chain length control in Rv1086. We have tested this hypothesis and have identified a double mutant of Rv1086 which makes a range of longer lipid chains.
Drug design; enzyme mechanism; tuberculosis; x-ray crystallography; inhibitors
Enantiomerically pure 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 2,4-cyclodiphosphate 1 (ME-CPP) is synthesized from 1,2-O-isopropylidene-α-D-xylofuranose with facile phosphorylation in good yield. Subsequently, the synthesized enantiomerically pure 1 can be used as a substrate in IspG assays to identify inhibitors that may be developed into antibacterial drug leads.
Since utilization of menaquinone in the electron transport system is a characteristic of Gram-positive organisms, the 1,4-dihydroxy-2-naphthoate prenyltransferase (MenA) inhibitors 1a and 2a act as selective antibacterial agents against organisms such as methicillin-resistant Stapylococcus aureus (MRSA), Staphylococcus epidermidis (MRSE), and Mycobacterium spp. Growth of drug-resistant Gram-positive organisms was sensitive to the MenA inhibitors, indicating that menaquinone synthesis is a valid new drug target in Gram-positive organisms.
The mycobacterial arabinan is an elaborate component of the cell wall with multiple glycosyl linkages and no repeating units. In Mycobacterium spp., the Emb proteins (EmbA, EmbB, and EmbC) have been identified as putative mycobacterial arabinosyltransferases implicated in the biogenesis of the cell wall arabinan. Furthermore, it is now evident that the EmbA and EmbB proteins are involved in the assembly of the nonreducing terminal motif of arabinogalactan and EmbC is involved in transferring arabinose, perhaps in the early stage of arabinan synthesis in lipoarabinomannan. It has also been shown that the Emb proteins are a target of the antimycobacterial drug ethambutol (EMB). In the search for additional mycobacterial arabinosyltransferases in addition to the Emb proteins, we disrupted MSMEG_6386 (an orthologue of Rv3792 and a gene upstream of embC) in Mycobacterium smegmatis. Allelic exchange at the chromosomal MSMEG_6386 locus of M. smegmatis could only be achieved in the presence of a rescue plasmid carrying a functional copy of MSMEG_6386 or Rv3792, strongly suggesting that MSMEG_6386 is essential. An in vitro arabinosyltransferase assay using a membrane preparation from M. smegmatis expressing Rv3792 and synthetic β-d-Galf-(1→5)-β-d-Galf-(1→6)-β-d-Galf-octyl and β-d-Galf-(1→6)-β-d-Galf-(1→5)-β-d-Galf-octyl showed that Rv3792 gene product can transfer an arabinose residue to the C-5 position of the internal 6-linked galactose. The reactions were insensitive to EMB, and when α-d-Manp-(1→6)-α-d-Manp-(1→6)-α-d-Manp-octylthiomethyl was used as an acceptor, no product was formed. These observations indicate that transfer of the first arabinofuranose residue to galactan is essential for M. smegmatis viability.
An acid and base stable hydroxytetrachlorodiphenylmethyl (HTPM) linker is developed for polymer-supported organic synthesis. The linkers reported here are utilized for loading carboxylic acids, amines, alcohols, and phenols, and are stable to Brønsted and Lewis acids, Brønsted bases and a wide variety of nucleophiles. However, the HTPM linkers can conveniently be cleaved by the solvolytic displacement reactions with 20% TFA.
The peptidoglycan structure of Mycobacterium spp. has been investigated primarily with the readily cultivable Mycobacterium smegmatis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis and has been shown to contain unusual features, including the occurrence of N-glycolylated, in addition to N-acetylated, muramic acid residues and direct cross-linkage between meso-diaminopimelic acid residues. Based on results from earlier studies, peptidoglycan from in vivo-derived noncultivable Mycobacterium leprae was assumed to possess the basic structural features of peptidoglycans from other mycobacteria, other than the reported replacement of l-alanine by glycine in the peptide side chains. In the present study, we have analyzed the structure of M. leprae peptidoglycan in detail by combined liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. In contrast to earlier reports, and to the peptidoglycans in M. tuberculosis and M. smegmatis, the muramic acid residues of M. leprae peptidoglycan are exclusively N acetylated. The un-cross-linked peptide side chains of M. leprae consist of tetra- and tripeptides, some of which contain additional glycine residues. Based on these findings and genome comparisons, it can be concluded that the massive genome decay in M. leprae does not markedly affect the peptidoglycan biosynthesis pathway, with the exception of the nonfunctional namH gene responsible for N-glycolylmuramic acid biosynthesis.
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.
The possibility of the Rv3782 protein of Mycobacterium tuberculosis being a putative galactosyl transferase (GalTr) implicated in galactan synthesis arose from its similarity to the known GalTr Rv3808c, its classification as a nucleotide sugar-requiring inverting glycosyltransferase (GT-2 family), and its location within the “possible arabinogalactan biosynthetic gene cluster” of M. tuberculosis. In order to study the function of the enzyme, active membrane and cell wall fractions from Mycobacterium smegmatis containing the overexpressed Rv3782 protein were incubated with endogenous decaprenyldiphosphoryl-N-acetylglucosaminyl-rhamnose (C50-P-P-GlcNAc-Rha) as the primary substrate for galactan synthesis and UDP-[14C]galactopyranose as the immediate precursor of UDP-[14C]galactofuranose, the ultimate source of all of the galactofuranose (Galf) units of galactan. Obvious increased and selective synthesis of C50-P-P-GlcNAc-Rha-Galf-Galf, the earliest product in the pathway leading to the fully polymerized galactan, was observed, suggesting that Rv3782 encodes a GalTr involved in the first stages of galactan synthesis. Time course experiments pointed to a possible bifunctional enzyme responsible for the initial synthesis of C50-P-P-GlcNAc-Rha-Galf, followed by immediate conversion to C50-P-P-GlcNAc-Rha-Galf-Galf. Thus, Rv3782 appears to be the initiator of galactan synthesis, while Rv3808c continues with the subsequent polymerization events.
The assessment of physiochemical and pharmacological properties at early stages of drug discovery can accelerate the conversion of hits and leads into candidates for further development. A strategy for streamlined evaluation of compounds against Mycobacterium tuberculosis in the early preclinical stage is presented in this report. As a primary assay to rapidly select experimental compounds with sufficient in vitro activity, the growth inhibition microtiter plate assay was devised as an alternative to current methods. This microdilution plate assay is a liquid culture method based on spectrophotometric readings of the bacillary growth. The performance of this method was compared to the performance of two established susceptibility methods using clinical available tuberculosis (TB) drugs. Data generated from all three assays were similar for all of the tested compounds. A second simple bioassay was devised to assess the oral bioavailability of compounds prior to extensive in vivo efficacy testing. The bioassay estimates drug concentrations in collected serum samples by a microdilution MIC plate method using M. tuberculosis. In the same assay, the MIC of the compound is also determined in the presence of 10% mouse serum as an indication of protein binding. The method was validated using different clinically available TB drugs, and results are discussed in this report. With these methodological advances, screening of compounds against tuberculosis in the preclinical phase will be rapid, can be adapted to semi-high-throughput screening, and will add relevant physicochemical and basic pharmacological criteria to the decision process of drug discovery.