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1.  Molecular Characterization of an NADPH-Dependent Acetoin Reductase/2,3-Butanediol Dehydrogenase from Clostridium beijerinckii NCIMB 8052 
Acetoin reductase is an important enzyme for the fermentative production of 2,3-butanediol, a chemical compound with a very broad industrial use. Here, we report on the discovery and characterization of an acetoin reductase from Clostridium beijerinckii NCIMB 8052. An in silico screen of the C. beijerinckii genome revealed eight potential acetoin reductases. One of them (CBEI_1464) showed substantial acetoin reductase activity after expression in Escherichia coli. The purified enzyme (C. beijerinckii acetoin reductase [Cb-ACR]) was found to exist predominantly as a homodimer. In addition to acetoin (or 2,3-butanediol), other secondary alcohols and corresponding ketones were converted as well, provided that another electronegative group was attached to the adjacent C-3 carbon. Optimal activity was at pH 6.5 (reduction) and 9.5 (oxidation) and around 68°C. Cb-ACR accepts both NADH and NADPH as electron donors; however, unlike closely related enzymes, NADPH is preferred (Km, 32 μM). Cb-ACR was compared to characterized close homologs, all belonging to the “threonine dehydrogenase and related Zn-dependent dehydrogenases” (COG1063). Metal analysis confirmed the presence of 2 Zn2+ atoms. To gain insight into the substrate and cofactor specificity, a structural model was constructed. The catalytic zinc atom is likely coordinated by Cys37, His70, and Glu71, while the structural zinc site is probably composed of Cys100, Cys103, Cys106, and Cys114. Residues determining NADP specificity were predicted as well. The physiological role of Cb-ACR in C. beijerinckii is discussed.
doi:10.1128/AEM.04007-13
PMCID: PMC3957656  PMID: 24441158
2.  vanI: a novel d-Ala-d-Lac vancomycin resistance gene cluster found in Desulfitobacterium hafniense 
Microbial Biotechnology  2014;7(5):456-466.
The glycopeptide vancomycin was until recently considered a drug of last resort against Gram-positive bacteria. Increasing numbers of bacteria, however, are found to carry genes that confer resistance to this antibiotic. So far, 10 different vancomycin resistance clusters have been described. A chromosomal vancomycin resistance gene cluster was previously described for the anaerobic Desulfitobacterium hafniense Y51. We demonstrate that this gene cluster, characterized by its d-Ala-d-Lac ligase-encoding vanI gene, is present in all strains of D. hafniense, D. chlororespirans and some strains of Desulfosporosinus spp. This gene cluster was not found in vancomycin-sensitive Desulfitobacterium or Desulfosporosinus spp., and we show that this antibiotic resistance can be exploited as an intrinsic selection marker for Desulfitobacterium hafniense and D. chlororespirans. The gene cluster containing vanI is phylogenetically only distantly related with those described from soil and gut bacteria, but clusters instead with vancomycin resistance genes found within the phylum Actinobacteria that include several vancomycin-producing bacteria. It lacks a vanH homologue, encoding a D-lactate dehydrogenase, previously thought to always be present within vancomycin resistance gene clusters. The location of vanH outside the resistance gene cluster likely hinders horizontal gene transfer. Hence, the vancomycin resistance cluster in D. hafniense should be regarded a novel one that we here designated vanI after its unique d-Ala-d-Lac ligase.
doi:10.1111/1751-7915.12139
PMCID: PMC4229326  PMID: 25042042
3.  Functional and structural characterization of a thermostable acetyl esterase from Thermotoga maritima 
Proteins  2012;80(6):1545-1559.
TM0077 from Thermotoga maritima is a member of the carbohydrate esterase family 7 and is active on a variety of acetylated compounds, including cephalosporin C. TM0077 esterase activity is confined to short-chain acyl esters (C2-C3), and is optimal around 100°C and pH 7.5. The positional specificity of TM0077 was investigated using 4-nitrophenyl-β-D-xylopyranoside monoacetates as substrates in a β-xylosidase-coupled assay. TM0077 hydrolyzes acetate at positions 2, 3 and 4 with equal efficiency. No activity was detected on xylan or acetylated xylan, which implies that TM0077 is an acetyl esterase and not an acetyl xylan esterase as currently annotated. Selenomethionine-substituted and native structures of TM0077 were determined at 2.1 Å and 2.5 Å resolution, respectively, revealing a classic α/β-hydrolase fold. TM0077 assembles into a doughnut-shaped hexamer with small tunnels on either side leading to an inner cavity, which contains the six catalytic centers. Structures of TM0077 with covalently bound phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride (PMSF) and paraoxon were determined to 2.4 Å and 2.1 Å, respectively, and confirmed that both inhibitors bind covalently to the catalytic serine (Ser188). Upon binding of inhibitor, the catalytic serine adopts an altered conformation, as observed in other esterase and lipases, and supports a previously proposed catalytic mechanism in which this Ser hydroxyl rotation prevents reversal of the reaction and allows access of a water molecule for completion of the reaction.
doi:10.1002/prot.24041
PMCID: PMC3348966  PMID: 22411095
Acetyl esterase; Thermotoga maritima; crystal structure; α/β hydrolase; inhibitor; serine rotation
4.  Characterization of Aptamer-Protein Complexes by X-ray Crystallography and Alternative Approaches 
Aptamers are oligonucleotide ligands, either RNA or ssDNA, selected for high-affinity binding to molecular targets, such as small organic molecules, proteins or whole microorganisms. While reports of new aptamers are numerous, characterization of their specific interaction is often restricted to the affinity of binding (KD). Over the years, crystal structures of aptamer-protein complexes have only scarcely become available. Here we describe some relevant technical issues about the process of crystallizing aptamer-protein complexes and highlight some biochemical details on the molecular basis of selected aptamer-protein interactions. In addition, alternative experimental and computational approaches are discussed to study aptamer-protein interactions.
doi:10.3390/ijms130810537
PMCID: PMC3431876  PMID: 22949878
X-ray crystallography; aptamer; interaction; RNA/DNA-protein complex
5.  Crystallization and preliminary crystallographic analysis of an esterase with a novel domain from the hyperthermophile Thermotoga maritima  
A thermostable esterase (EstA) from Thermotoga maritima was cloned and purified. Crystals of EstA and its selenomethionine derivative were grown and diffract to beyond 2.6 Å resolution at 100 K using synchrotron radiation.
A predicted esterase (EstA) with an unusual new domain from the hyperthermophilic bacterium Thermotoga maritima has been cloned and overexpressed in Escherichia coli. The purified protein was crystallized by the hanging-drop vapour-diffusion technique in the presence of lithium sulfate and polyethylene glycol 8000. Selenomethionine-substituted EstA crystals were obtained under the same conditions and three different-wavelength data sets were collected to 2.6 Å resolution. The crystal belongs to space group H32, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 130.2, c = 306.2 Å. There are two molecules in the asymmetric unit, with a V M of 2.9 Å3 Da−1 and 58% solvent content.
doi:10.1107/S174430910703953X
PMCID: PMC2376313  PMID: 17768353
esterases; Thermotoga maritima
6.  Carboxylic ester hydrolases from hyperthermophiles 
Extremophiles   2009;13(4):567-581.
Carboxylic ester hydrolyzing enzymes constitute a large group of enzymes that are able to catalyze the hydrolysis, synthesis or transesterification of an ester bond. They can be found in all three domains of life, including the group of hyperthermophilic bacteria and archaea. Esterases from the latter group often exhibit a high intrinsic stability, which makes them of interest them for various biotechnological applications. In this review, we aim to give an overview of all characterized carboxylic ester hydrolases from hyperthermophilic microorganisms and provide details on their substrate specificity, kinetics, optimal catalytic conditions, and stability. Approaches for the discovery of new carboxylic ester hydrolases are described. Special attention is given to the currently characterized hyperthermophilic enzymes with respect to their biochemical properties, 3D structure, and classification.
doi:10.1007/s00792-009-0260-4
PMCID: PMC2706381  PMID: 19544040
Carboxylic ester hydrolase; Esterase; Lipase; Hyperthermophile; Biochemical properties; Structure; Classification; Review

Results 1-6 (6)