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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1-Deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate reductoisomerase (IspC) catalyzes the first committed step in the mevalonate-independent isopentenyl diphosphate biosynthetic pathway and is a potential drug target in some pathogenic bacteria. The antibiotic fosmidomycin has been shown to inhibit IspC in a number of organisms and is active against most gram-negative bacteria but not gram positives, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis, even though the mevalonate-independent pathway is the sole isopentenyl diphosphate biosynthetic pathway in this organism. Therefore, the enzymatic properties of recombinant IspC from M. tuberculosis were characterized. Rv2870c from M. tuberculosis converts 1-deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate to 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate in the presence of NADPH. The enzymatic activity is dependent on the presence of Mg2+ ions and exhibits optimal activity between pH 7.5 and 7.9; the Km for 1-deoxyxylulose 5-phosphate was calculated to be 47.1 μM, and the Km for NADPH was 29.7 μM. The specificity constant of Rv2780c in the forward direction is 1.5 × 106 M−1 min−1, and the reaction is inhibited by fosmidomycin, with a 50% inhibitory concentration of 310 nM. In addition, Rv2870c complements an inactivated chromosomal copy of IspC in Salmonella enterica, and the complemented strain is sensitive to fosmidomycin. Thus, M. tuberculosis resistance to fosmidomycin is not due to intrinsic properties of Rv2870c, and the enzyme appears to be a valid drug target in this pathogen.
The major cell wall polysaccharide of mycobacteria is a branched-chain arabinogalactan in which arabinan chains are attached to the 5 carbon of some of the 6-linked galactofuranose residues; these arabinan chains are composed exclusively of d-arabinofuranose (Araf) residues. The immediate precursor of the polymerized Araf is decaprenylphosphoryl-d-Araf, which is derived from 5-phosphoribose 1-diphosphate (pRpp) in an undefined manner. On the basis of time course, feedback, and chemical reduction experiment results we propose that decaprenylphosphoryl-Araf is synthesized by the following sequence of events. (i) pRpp is transferred to a decaprenyl-phosphate molecule to form decaprenylphosphoryl-β-d-5-phosphoribose. (ii) Decaprenylphosphoryl-β-d-5-phosphoribose is dephosphorylated to form decaprenylphosphoryl-β-d-ribose. (iii) The hydroxyl group at the 2 position of the ribose is oxidized and is likely to form decaprenylphosphoryl-2-keto-β-d-erythro-pentofuranose. (iv) Decaprenylphosphoryl-2-keto-β-d-erythro-pentofuranose is reduced to form decaprenylphosphoryl-β-d-Araf. Thus, the epimerization of the ribosyl to an arabinosyl residue occurs at the lipid-linked level; this is the first report of an epimerase that utilizes a lipid-linked sugar as a substrate. On the basis of similarity to proteins implicated in the arabinosylation of the Azorhizobium caulidans nodulation factor, two genes were cloned from the Mycobacterium tuberculosis genome and expressed in a heterologous host, and the protein was purified. Together, these proteins (Rv3790 and Rv3791) are able to catalyze the epimerization, although neither protein individually is sufficient to support the activity.
Structural analysis of compounds identified as lipid I and II from Mycobacterium smegmatis demonstrated that the lipid moiety is decaprenyl phosphate; thus, M. smegmatis is the first bacterium reported to utilize a prenyl phosphate other than undecaprenyl phosphate as the lipid carrier involved in peptidoglycan synthesis. In addition, mass spectrometry showed that the muropeptides from lipid I are predominantly N-acetylmuramyl-l-alanine-d-glutamate-meso-diaminopimelic acid-d-alanyl-d-alanine, whereas those isolated from lipid II form an unexpectedly complex mixture in which the muramyl residue and the pentapeptide are modified singly and in combination. The muramyl residue is present as N-acetylmuramic acid, N-glycolylmuramic acid, and muramic acid. The carboxylic functions of the peptide side-chains of lipid II showed three types of modification, with the dominant one being amidation. The preferred site for amidation is the free carboxyl group of the meso-diaminopimelic acid residue. Diamidated species were also observed. The carboxylic function of the terminal d-alanine of some molecules is methylated, as are all three carboxylic acid functions of other molecules. This study represents the first structural analysis of mycobacterial lipid I and II and the first report of extensive modifications of these molecules. The observation that lipid I was unmodified strongly suggests that the lipid II intermediates of M. smegmatis are substrates for a variety of enzymes that introduce modifications to the sugar and amino acid residues prior to the synthesis of peptidoglycan.
The peptidoglycan of Mycobacterium spp. reportedly has some unique features, including the occurrence of N-glycolylmuramic rather than N-acetylmuramic acid. However, very little is known of the actual biosynthesis of mycobacterial peptidoglycan, including the extent and origin of N glycolylation. In the present work, we have isolated and analyzed muramic acid residues located in peptidoglycan and UDP-linked precursors of peptidoglycan from Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium smegmatis. The muramic acid residues isolated from the mature peptidoglycan of both species were shown to be a mixture of the N-acetyl and N-glycolyl derivatives, not solely the N-glycolylated product as generally reported. The isolated UDP-linked N-acylmuramyl-pentapeptide precursor molecules also contain a mixture of N-acetyl and N-glycolyl muramyl residues in apparent contrast to previous observations in which the precursors isolated after treatment with d-cycloserine consisted entirely of N-glycolyl muropeptides. However, nucleotide-linked peptidoglycan precursors isolated from M. tuberculosis treated with d-cycloserine contained only N-glycolylmuramyl-tripeptide precursors, whereas those from similarly treated M. smegmatis consisted of a mixture of N-glycolylated and N-acetylated residues. The full pentapeptide intermediate, isolated following vancomycin treatment of M. smegmatis, consisted of the N-glycolyl derivative only, whereas the corresponding M. tuberculosis intermediate was a mixture of both the N-glycolyl and N-acetyl products. Thus, treatment with vancomycin and d-cylcoserine not only caused an accumulation of nucleotide-linked intermediate compounds but also altered their glycolylation status, possibly by altering the normal equilibrium maintained by de novo biosynthesis and peptidoglycan recycling.
Mycobacterial peptidoglycan contains l-alanyl-d-iso-glutaminyl-meso-diaminopimelyl-d-alanyl-d-alanine peptides, with the exception of the peptidoglycan of Mycobacterium leprae, in which glycine replaces the l-alanyl residue. The third-position amino acid of the peptides is where peptidoglycan cross-linking occurs, either between the meso-diaminopimelate (DAP) moiety of one peptide and the penultimate d-alanine of another peptide or between two DAP residues. We previously described a collection of spontaneous mutants of DAP-auxotrophic strains of Mycobacterium smegmatis that can grow in the absence of DAP. The mutants are grouped into seven classes, depending on how well they grow without DAP and whether they are sensitive to DAP, temperature, or detergent. Furthermore, the mutants are hypersusceptible to β-lactam antibiotics when grown in the absence of DAP, suggesting that these mutants assemble an abnormal peptidoglycan. In this study, we show that one of these mutants, M. smegmatis strain PM440, utilizes lanthionine, an unusual bacterial metabolite, in place of DAP. We also demonstrate that the abilities of PM440 to grow without DAP and use lanthionine for peptidoglycan biosynthesis result from an unusual mutation in the putative ribosome binding site of the cbs gene, encoding cystathionine β-synthase, an enzyme that is a part of the cysteine biosynthetic pathway.
Z-prenyl diphosphate synthases catalyze the sequential condensation of isopentenyl diphosphate with allylic diphosphates to synthesize polyprenyl diphosphates. In mycobacteria, these are precursors of decaprenyl phosphate, a molecule which plays a central role in the biosynthesis of essential mycobacterial cell wall components, such as the mycolyl-arabinogalactan-peptidoglycan complex and lipoarabinomannan. Recently, it was demonstrated that open reading frame Rv2361c of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Rv genome encodes a unique prenyl diphosphate synthase (M. C. Schulbach, P. J. Brennan, and D. C. Crick, J. Biol. Chem. 275:22876-22881, 2000). We have now purified the enzyme to near homogeneity by using an Escherichia coli expression system and have shown that the product of this enzyme is decaprenyl diphosphate. Rv2361c has an absolute requirement for divalent cations and an optimal pH range of 7.5 to 8.5, and the activity is stimulated by both detergent and dithiothreitol. The enzyme catalyzes the addition of isopentenyl diphosphate to geranyl diphosphate, neryl diphosphate, ω,E,E-farnesyl diphosphate, ω,E,Z-farnesyl diphosphate, or ω,E,E,E-geranylgeranyl diphosphate, with Km values for the allylic substrates of 490, 29, 84, 290, and 40 μM, respectively. The Km value for isopentenyl diphosphate is 89 μM. The catalytic efficiency is greatest when ω,E,Z-farnesyl diphosphate is used as the allylic acceptor, suggesting that this is the natural substrate in vivo, a conclusion that is supported by previous structural studies of decaprenyl phosphoryl mannose isolated from M. tuberculosis. This is the first report of a bacterial Z-prenyl diphosphate synthase that preferentially utilizes an allylic diphosphate primer having the α-isoprene unit in the Z configuration, indicating that Rv1086 (ω,E,Z-farnesyl diphosphate synthase) and Rv2361c act sequentially in the biosynthetic pathway that leads to the formation of decaprenyl phosphate in M. tuberculosis.
A novel Mycobacterium leprae lipoprotein LpK (accession no. ML0603) was identified from the genomic database. The 1,116-bp open reading frame encodes a 371-amino-acid precursor protein with an N-terminal signal sequence and a consensus motif for lipid conjugation. Expression of the protein, LpK, in Escherichia coli revealed a 33-kDa protein, and metabolic labeling experiments and globomycin treatment proved that the protein was lipidated. Fractionation of M. leprae demonstrated that this lipoprotein was a membrane protein of M. leprae. The purified lipoprotein was found to induce production of interleukin-12 in human peripheral blood monocytes. The studies imply that M. leprae LpK is involved in protective immunity against leprosy and may be a candidate for vaccine design.