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1.  A Phosphorylated Pseudokinase Complex Controls Cell Wall Synthesis in Mycobacteria 
Science signaling  2012;5(208):ra7.
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.
PMCID: PMC3664666  PMID: 22275220
2.  Lipoarabinomannan Localization and Abundance during Growth of Mycobacterium smegmatis ▿ †  
Journal of Bacteriology  2011;193(20):5802-5809.
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.
PMCID: PMC3187192  PMID: 21840972
3.  DosS Responds to a Reduced Electron Transport System To Induce the Mycobacterium tuberculosis DosR Regulon▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;192(24):6447-6455.
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.
PMCID: PMC3008535  PMID: 20952575
4.  1-Deoxy-d-Xylulose 5-Phosphate Reductoisomerase (IspC) from Mycobacterium tuberculosis: towards Understanding Mycobacterial Resistance to Fosmidomycin 
Journal of Bacteriology  2005;187(24):8395-8402.
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.
PMCID: PMC1316992  PMID: 16321944

Results 1-4 (4)