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1.  Metabolic and Bactericidal Effects of Targeted Suppression of NadD and NadE Enzymes in Mycobacteria 
mBio  2014;5(1):e00747-13.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis remains a major cause of death due to the lack of treatment accessibility, HIV coinfection, and drug resistance. Development of new drugs targeting previously unexplored pathways is essential to shorten treatment time and eliminate persistent M. tuberculosis. A promising biochemical pathway which may be targeted to kill both replicating and nonreplicating M. tuberculosis is the biosynthesis of NAD(H), an essential cofactor in multiple reactions crucial for respiration, redox balance, and biosynthesis of major building blocks. NaMN adenylyltransferase (NadD) and NAD synthetase (NadE), the key enzymes of NAD biosynthesis, were selected as promising candidate drug targets for M. tuberculosis. Here we report for the first time kinetic characterization of the recombinant purified NadD enzyme, setting the stage for its structural analysis and inhibitor development. A protein knockdown approach was applied to validate bothNadD and NadE as target enzymes. Induced degradation of either target enzyme showed a strong bactericidal effect which coincided with anticipated changes in relative levels of NaMN and NaAD intermediates (substrates of NadD and NadE, respectively) and ultimate depletion of the NAD(H) pool. A metabolic catastrophe predicted as a likely result of NAD(H) deprivation of cellular metabolism was confirmed by 13C biosynthetic labeling followed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis. A sharp suppression of metabolic flux was observed in multiple NAD(P)(H)-dependent pathways, including synthesis of many amino acids (serine, proline, aromatic amino acids) and fatty acids. Overall, these results provide strong validation of the essential NAD biosynthetic enzymes, NadD and NadE, as antimycobacterial drug targets.
To address the problems of M. tuberculosis drug resistance and persistence of tuberculosis, new classes of drug targets need to be explored. The biogenesis of NAD cofactors was selected for target validation because of their indispensable role in driving hundreds of biochemical transformations. We hypothesized that the disruption of NAD production in the cell via genetic suppression of the essential enzymes (NadD and NadE) involved in the last two steps of NAD biogenesis would lead to cell death, even under dormancy conditions. In this study, we confirmed the hypothesis using a protein knockdown approach in the model system of Mycobacterium smegmatis. We showed that induced proteolytic degradation of either target enzyme leads to depletion of the NAD cofactor pool, which suppresses metabolic flux through numerous NAD(P)-dependent pathways of central metabolism of carbon and energy production. Remarkably, bactericidal effect was observed even for nondividing bacteria cultivated under carbon starvation conditions.
PMCID: PMC3944813  PMID: 24549842
2.  Comparative genomics and functional analysis of rhamnose catabolic pathways and regulons in bacteria 
L-rhamnose (L-Rha) is a deoxy-hexose sugar commonly found in nature. L-Rha catabolic pathways were previously characterized in various bacteria including Escherichia coli. Nevertheless, homology searches failed to recognize all the genes for the complete L-Rha utilization pathways in diverse microbial species involved in biomass decomposition. Moreover, the regulatory mechanisms of L-Rha catabolism have remained unclear in most species. A comparative genomics approach was used to reconstruct the L-Rha catabolic pathways and transcriptional regulons in the phyla Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Chloroflexi, Firmicutes, Proteobacteria, and Thermotogae. The reconstructed pathways include multiple novel enzymes and transporters involved in the utilization of L-Rha and L-Rha-containing polymers. Large-scale regulon inference using bioinformatics revealed remarkable variations in transcriptional regulators for L-Rha utilization genes among bacteria. A novel bifunctional enzyme, L-rhamnulose-phosphate aldolase (RhaE) fused to L-lactaldehyde dehydrogenase (RhaW), which is not homologous to previously characterized L-Rha catabolic enzymes, was identified in diverse bacteria including Chloroflexi, Bacilli, and Alphaproteobacteria. By using in vitro biochemical assays we validated both enzymatic activities of the purified recombinant RhaEW proteins from Chloroflexus aurantiacus and Bacillus subtilis. Another novel enzyme of the L-Rha catabolism, L-lactaldehyde reductase (RhaZ), was identified in Gammaproteobacteria and experimentally validated by in vitro enzymatic assays using the recombinant protein from Salmonella typhimurium. C. aurantiacus induced transcription of the predicted L-Rha utilization genes when L-Rha was present in the growth medium and consumed L-Rha from the medium. This study provided comprehensive insights to L-Rha catabolism and its regulation in diverse Bacteria.
PMCID: PMC3870299  PMID: 24391637
L-rhamnose catabolism; metabolic reconstruction; regulon; comparative genomics; Chloroflexus
3.  Polysaccharides utilization in human gut bacterium Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron: comparative genomics reconstruction of metabolic and regulatory networks 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:873.
Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron, a predominant member of the human gut microbiota, is characterized by its ability to utilize a wide variety of polysaccharides using the extensive saccharolytic machinery that is controlled by an expanded repertoire of transcription factors (TFs). The availability of genomic sequences for multiple Bacteroides species opens an opportunity for their comparative analysis to enable characterization of their metabolic and regulatory networks.
A comparative genomics approach was applied for the reconstruction and functional annotation of the carbohydrate utilization regulatory networks in 11 Bacteroides genomes. Bioinformatics analysis of promoter regions revealed putative DNA-binding motifs and regulons for 31 orthologous TFs in the Bacteroides. Among the analyzed TFs there are 4 SusR-like regulators, 16 AraC-like hybrid two-component systems (HTCSs), and 11 regulators from other families. Novel DNA motifs of HTCSs and SusR-like regulators in the Bacteroides have the common structure of direct repeats with a long spacer between two conserved sites.
The inferred regulatory network in B. thetaiotaomicron contains 308 genes encoding polysaccharide and sugar catabolic enzymes, carbohydrate-binding and transport systems, and TFs. The analyzed TFs control pathways for utilization of host and dietary glycans to monosaccharides and their further interconversions to intermediates of the central metabolism. The reconstructed regulatory network allowed us to suggest and refine specific functional assignments for sugar catabolic enzymes and transporters, providing a substantial improvement to the existing metabolic models for B. thetaiotaomicron. The obtained collection of reconstructed TF regulons is available in the RegPrecise database (
PMCID: PMC3878776  PMID: 24330590
Regulatory network; Regulon; Transcription factor; BACTEROIDES; Carbohydrate utilization
4.  Glutamine-fueled mitochondrial metabolism is decoupled from glycolysis in melanoma 
Pigment cell & melanoma research  2012;25(6):732-739.
In this perspective, we revise the historic notion that cancer is a disease of mitochondria. We summarize recent findings on the function and rewiring of central carbon metabolism in melanoma. Metabolic profiling studies using stable isotope tracers show that glycolysis is decoupled from the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle. This decoupling is not ‘dysfunction’ but rather an alternate wiring required by tumor cells to remain metabolically versatile. In large part, this requirement is met by glutamine feeding the TCA cycle as an alternative source of carbon. Glutamine is also used in non-conventional ways, like traveling in reverse through the TCA flux to feed fatty acid biosynthesis. The biosynthetic networks linked with non-essential amino acids alanine, serine, arginine, and proline are also significantly impacted by the use of glutamine as an alternate carbon source.
PMCID: PMC3639292  PMID: 22846158
metabolism; mitochondria; glutamine; systems biology; NMR
5.  Transcriptional regulation of the carbohydrate utilization network in Thermotoga maritima 
Hyperthermophilic bacteria from the Thermotogales lineage can produce hydrogen by fermenting a wide range of carbohydrates. Previous experimental studies identified a large fraction of genes committed to carbohydrate degradation and utilization in the model bacterium Thermotoga maritima. Knowledge of these genes enabled comprehensive reconstruction of biochemical pathways comprising the carbohydrate utilization network. However, transcriptional factors (TFs) and regulatory mechanisms driving this network remained largely unknown. Here, we used an integrated approach based on comparative analysis of genomic and transcriptomic data for the reconstruction of the carbohydrate utilization regulatory networks in 11 Thermotogales genomes. We identified DNA-binding motifs and regulons for 19 orthologous TFs in the Thermotogales. The inferred regulatory network in T. maritima contains 181 genes encoding TFs, sugar catabolic enzymes and ABC-family transporters. In contrast to many previously described bacteria, a transcriptional regulation strategy of Thermotoga does not employ global regulatory factors. The reconstructed regulatory network in T. maritima was validated by gene expression profiling on a panel of mono- and disaccharides and by in vitro DNA-binding assays. The observed upregulation of genes involved in catabolism of pectin, trehalose, cellobiose, arabinose, rhamnose, xylose, glucose, galactose, and ribose showed a strong correlation with the UxaR, TreR, BglR, CelR, AraR, RhaR, XylR, GluR, GalR, and RbsR regulons. Ultimately, this study elucidated the transcriptional regulatory network and mechanisms controlling expression of carbohydrate utilization genes in T. maritima. In addition to improving the functional annotations of associated transporters and catabolic enzymes, this research provides novel insights into the evolution of regulatory networks in Thermotogales.
PMCID: PMC3750489  PMID: 23986752
carbohydrate metabolism; transcriptional regulation; regulon; comparative genomics; Thermotoga
6.  Quinolinate Salvage and Insights for Targeting NAD Biosynthesis in Group A Streptococci 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(4):726-732.
The essential coenzyme NAD plays important roles in metabolic reactions and cell regulation in all organisms. As such, NAD synthesis has been investigated as a source for novel antibacterial targets. Cross-species genomics-based reconstructions of NAD metabolism in group A streptococci (GAS), combined with focused experimental testing in Streptococcus pyogenes, led to a better understanding of NAD metabolism in the pathogen. The predicted niacin auxotrophy was experimentally verified, as well as the essential role of the nicotinamidase PncA in the utilization of nicotinamide (Nm). PncA is dispensable in the presence of nicotinate (Na), ruling it out as a viable antibacterial target. The function of the “orphan” NadC enzyme, which is uniquely present in all GAS species despite the absence of other genes of NAD de novo synthesis, was elucidated. Indeed, the quinolinate (Qa) phosphoribosyltransferase activity of NadC from S. pyogenes allows the organism to sustain growth when Qa is present as a sole pyridine precursor. Finally, the redundancy of functional upstream salvage pathways in GAS species narrows the choice of potential drug targets to the two indispensable downstream enzymes of NAD synthesis, nicotinate adenylyltransferase (NadD family) and NAD synthetase (NadE family). Biochemical characterization of NadD confirmed its functional role in S. pyogenes, and its potential as an antibacterial target was supported by inhibition studies with previously identified class I inhibitors of the NadD enzyme family. One of these inhibitors efficiently inhibited S. pyogenes NadD (sp.NadD) in vitro (50% inhibitory concentration [IC50], 15 μM), exhibiting a noncompetitive mechanism with a Ki of 8 μM.
PMCID: PMC3562111  PMID: 23204464
7.  Reverse TCA cycle flux through isocitrate dehydrogenases 1 and 2 is required for lipogenesis in hypoxic melanoma cells 
Pigment cell & melanoma research  2012;25(3):375-383.
The TCA cycle is the central hub of oxidative metabolism, running in the classic forward direction to provide carbon for biosynthesis and reducing agents for generation of ATP. Our metabolic tracer studies in melanoma cells showed that in hypoxic conditions the TCA cycle is largely disconnected from glycolysis. By studying the TCA branch point metabolites, acetyl CoA and citrate, as well as the metabolic endpoints glutamine and fatty acids, we developed a comprehensive picture of the rewiring of the TCA cycle that occurs in hypoxia. Hypoxic tumor cells maintain proliferation by running the TCA cycle in reverse. The source of carbon for acetyl CoA, citrate, and fatty acids switches from glucose in normoxia to glutamine in hypoxia. This hypoxic flux from glutamine into fatty acids is mediated by reductive carboxylation. This reductive carboxylation is catalyzed by two isocitrate dehydrogenases, IDH1 and IDH2. Their combined action is necessary and sufficient to effect the reverse TCA flux and maintain cellular viability.
PMCID: PMC3329592  PMID: 22360810
8.  Diversity and Versatility of the Thermotoga maritima Sugar Kinome 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(20):5552-5563.
Sugar phosphorylation is an indispensable committed step in a large variety of sugar catabolic pathways, which are major suppliers of carbon and energy in heterotrophic species. Specialized sugar kinases that are indispensable for most of these pathways can be utilized as signature enzymes for the reconstruction of carbohydrate utilization machinery from microbial genomic and metagenomic data. Sugar kinases occur in several structurally distinct families with various partially overlapping as well as yet unknown substrate specificities that often cannot be accurately assigned by homology-based techniques. A subsystems-based metabolic reconstruction combined with the analysis of genome context and followed by experimental testing of predicted gene functions is a powerful approach of functional gene annotation. Here we applied this integrated approach for functional mapping of all sugar kinases constituting an extensive and diverse sugar kinome in the thermophilic bacterium Thermotoga maritima. Substrate preferences of 14 kinases mainly from the FGGY and PfkB families were inferred by bioinformatics analysis and biochemically characterized by screening with a panel of 45 different carbohydrates. Most of the analyzed enzymes displayed narrow substrate preferences corresponding to their predicted physiological roles in their respective catabolic pathways. The observed consistency supports the choice of kinases as signature enzymes for genomics-based identification and reconstruction of sugar utilization pathways. Use of the integrated genomic and experimental approach greatly speeds up the identification of the biochemical function of unknown proteins and improves the quality of reconstructed pathways.
PMCID: PMC3458674  PMID: 22885293
9.  Structural basis of TLR5-flagellin recognition and signaling 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2012;335(6070):859-864.
Toll-like receptor 5 (TLR5) binding to bacterial flagellin activates NF-κB signaling and triggers an innate immune response to the invading pathogen. To elucidate the structural basis and mechanistic implications of TLR5-flagellin recognition, we determined the crystal structure of zebrafish TLR5, as a VLR-hybrid protein, in complex with the D1/D2 fragment of Salmonella flagellin, FliC, at 2.47 Å resolution. TLR5 interacts primarily with the three helices of the FliC D1 domain using its lateral side. Two TLR5-FliC 1:1 heterodimers assemble into a 2:2 tail-to-tail signaling complex that is stabilized by quaternary contacts of the FliC D1 domain with the convex surface of the opposing TLR5. The proposed signaling mechanism is supported by structure-guided mutagenesis and deletion analysis on CBLB502, a therapeutic protein derived from FliC.
PMCID: PMC3406927  PMID: 22344444
10.  Functional diversification of ROK-family transcriptional regulators of sugar catabolism in the Thermotogae phylum 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;41(2):790-803.
Large and functionally heterogeneous families of transcription factors have complex evolutionary histories. What shapes specificities toward effectors and DNA sites in paralogous regulators is a fundamental question in biology. Bacteria from the deep-branching lineage Thermotogae possess multiple paralogs of the repressor, open reading frame, kinase (ROK) family regulators that are characterized by carbohydrate-sensing domains shared with sugar kinases. We applied an integrated genomic approach to study functions and specificities of regulators from this family. A comparative analysis of 11 Thermotogae genomes revealed novel mechanisms of transcriptional regulation of the sugar utilization networks, DNA-binding motifs and specific functions. Reconstructed regulons for seven groups of ROK regulators were validated by DNA-binding assays using purified recombinant proteins from the model bacterium Thermotoga maritima. All tested regulators demonstrated specific binding to their predicted cognate DNA sites, and this binding was inhibited by specific effectors, mono- or disaccharides from their respective sugar catabolic pathways. By comparing ligand-binding domains of regulators with structurally characterized kinases from the ROK family, we elucidated signature amino acid residues determining sugar-ligand regulator specificity. Observed correlations between signature residues and the sugar-ligand specificities provide the framework for structure functional classification of the entire ROK family.
PMCID: PMC3553997  PMID: 23209028
11.  Functional Specialization in Proline Biosynthesis of Melanoma 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45190.
Proline metabolism is linked to hyperprolinemia, schizophrenia, cutis laxa, and cancer. In the latter case, tumor cells tend to rely on proline biosynthesis rather than salvage. Proline is synthesized from either glutamate or ornithine; both are converted to pyrroline-5-carboxylate (P5C), and then to proline via pyrroline-5-carboxylate reductases (PYCRs). Here, the role of three isozymic versions of PYCR was addressed in human melanoma cells by tracking the fate of 13C-labeled precursors. Based on these studies we conclude that PYCR1 and PYCR2, which are localized in the mitochondria, are primarily involved in conversion of glutamate to proline. PYCRL, localized in the cytosol, is exclusively linked to the conversion of ornithine to proline. This analysis provides the first clarification of the role of PYCRs to proline biosynthesis.
PMCID: PMC3443215  PMID: 23024808
12.  Transcriptional Regulation of Central Carbon and Energy Metabolism in Bacteria by Redox-Responsive Repressor Rex 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(5):1145-1157.
Redox-sensing repressor Rex was previously implicated in the control of anaerobic respiration in response to the cellular NADH/NAD+ levels in Gram-positive bacteria. We utilized the comparative genomics approach to infer candidate Rex-binding DNA motifs and assess the Rex regulon content in 119 genomes from 11 taxonomic groups. Both DNA-binding and NAD-sensing domains are broadly conserved in Rex orthologs identified in the phyla Firmicutes, Thermotogales, Actinobacteria, Chloroflexi, Deinococcus-Thermus, and Proteobacteria. The identified DNA-binding motifs showed significant conservation in these species, with the only exception detected in Clostridia, where the Rex motif deviates in two positions from the generalized consensus, TTGTGAANNNNTTCACAA. Comparative analysis of candidate Rex sites revealed remarkable variations in functional repertoires of candidate Rex-regulated genes in various microorganisms. Most of the reconstructed regulatory interactions are lineage specific, suggesting frequent events of gain and loss of regulator binding sites in the evolution of Rex regulons. We identified more than 50 novel Rex-regulated operons encoding functions that are essential for resumption of the NADH:NAD+ balance. The novel functional role of Rex in the control of the central carbon metabolism and hydrogen production genes was validated by in vitro DNA binding assays using the TM0169 protein in the hydrogen-producing bacterium Thermotoga maritima.
PMCID: PMC3294762  PMID: 22210771
13.  Structural determinants of limited proteolysis 
Journal of proteome research  2011;10(8):3642-3651.
Limited or regulatory proteolysis plays a critical role in many important biological pathways like blood coagulation, cell proliferation, and apoptosis. A better understanding of mechanisms that control this process is required for discovering new proteolytic events and for developing inhibitors with potential therapeutic value. Two features that determine the susceptibility of peptide bonds to proteolysis are the sequence in the vicinity of the scissile bond and the structural context in which the bond is displayed. In this study we assessed statistical significance and predictive power of individual structural descriptors and combination thereof for the identification of cleavage sites. The analysis was performed on a dataset of >200 proteolytic events documented in CutDB for a variety of mammalian regulatory proteases and their physiological substrates with known 3D structures. The results confirmed the significance and provided a ranking within three main categories of structural features: exposure > flexibility > local interactions. Among secondary structure elements, the largest frequency of proteolytic cleavage was confirmed for loops and lower but significant frequency for helices. Limited proteolysis has lower albeit appreciable frequency of occurrence in certain types of β-strands, which is in contrast with some previous reports. Descriptors deduced directly from the amino acid sequence displayed only marginal predictive capabilities. Homology-based structural models showed a predictive performance comparable to protein substrates with experimentally established structures. Overall, this study provided a foundation for accurate automated prediction of segments of protein structure susceptible to proteolytic processing and, potentially, other post-translational modifications.
PMCID: PMC3164237  PMID: 21682278
proteolysis; proteolytic processing; limited proteolysis; regulatory proteolysis; protease; cleavage site; cleavage site prediction
14.  Glutamine versus Ammonia Utilization in the NAD Synthetase Family 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39115.
NAD is a ubiquitous and essential metabolic redox cofactor which also functions as a substrate in certain regulatory pathways. The last step of NAD synthesis is the ATP-dependent amidation of deamido-NAD by NAD synthetase (NADS). Members of the NADS family are present in nearly all species across the three kingdoms of Life. In eukaryotic NADS, the core synthetase domain is fused with a nitrilase-like glutaminase domain supplying ammonia for the reaction. This two-domain NADS arrangement enabling the utilization of glutamine as nitrogen donor is also present in various bacterial lineages. However, many other bacterial members of NADS family do not contain a glutaminase domain, and they can utilize only ammonia (but not glutamine) in vitro. A single-domain NADS is also characteristic for nearly all Archaea, and its dependence on ammonia was demonstrated here for the representative enzyme from Methanocaldococcus jannaschi. However, a question about the actual in vivo nitrogen donor for single-domain members of the NADS family remained open: Is it glutamine hydrolyzed by a committed (but yet unknown) glutaminase subunit, as in most ATP-dependent amidotransferases, or free ammonia as in glutamine synthetase? Here we addressed this dilemma by combining evolutionary analysis of the NADS family with experimental characterization of two representative bacterial systems: a two-subunit NADS from Thermus thermophilus and a single-domain NADS from Salmonella typhimurium providing evidence that ammonia (and not glutamine) is the physiological substrate of a typical single-domain NADS. The latter represents the most likely ancestral form of NADS. The ability to utilize glutamine appears to have evolved via recruitment of a glutaminase subunit followed by domain fusion in an early branch of Bacteria. Further evolution of the NADS family included lineage-specific loss of one of the two alternative forms and horizontal gene transfer events. Lastly, we identified NADS structural elements associated with glutamine-utilizing capabilities.
PMCID: PMC3376133  PMID: 22720044
15.  Inference of the Transcriptional Regulatory Network in Staphylococcus aureus by Integration of Experimental and Genomics-Based Evidence▿† 
Journal of Bacteriology  2011;193(13):3228-3240.
Transcriptional regulatory networks are fine-tuned systems that help microorganisms respond to changes in the environment and cell physiological state. We applied the comparative genomics approach implemented in the RegPredict Web server combined with SEED subsystem analysis and available information on known regulatory interactions for regulatory network reconstruction for the human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus and six related species from the family Staphylococcaceae. The resulting reference set of 46 transcription factor regulons contains more than 1,900 binding sites and 2,800 target genes involved in the central metabolism of carbohydrates, amino acids, and fatty acids; respiration; the stress response; metal homeostasis; drug and metal resistance; and virulence. The inferred regulatory network in S. aureus includes ∼320 regulatory interactions between 46 transcription factors and ∼550 candidate target genes comprising 20% of its genome. We predicted ∼170 novel interactions and 24 novel regulons for the control of the central metabolic pathways in S. aureus. The reconstructed regulons are largely variable in the Staphylococcaceae: only 20% of S. aureus regulatory interactions are conserved across all studied genomes. We used a large-scale gene expression data set for S. aureus to assess relationships between the inferred regulons and gene expression patterns. The predicted reference set of regulons is captured within the Staphylococcus collection in the RegPrecise database (
PMCID: PMC3133287  PMID: 21531804
16.  Complexes of bacterial nicotinate mononucleotide adenylyltransferase with inhibitors: implication for structure-based drug design and improvement§ 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2010;53(14):5229-5239.
Bacterial nicotinate mononucleotide adenylyltransferase encoded by the essential gene nadD plays a central role in the synthesis of the redox cofactor NAD+. The NadD enzyme is conserved in the majority of bacterial species and has been recognized as a novel target for developing new and potentially broad-spectrum antibacterial therapeutics. Here we report the crystal structures of Bacillus anthracis NadD in complex with three NadD inhibitors, including two analogues synthesized in the present study. These structures revealed a common binding site shared by different classes of NadD inhibitors and explored the chemical environment surrounding this site. The structural data obtained here also showed that the subtle changes in ligand structure can lead to significant changes in the binding mode, information that will be useful for future structure-based optimization and design of high affinity inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC2915899  PMID: 20578699
17.  Deletion of Genes Encoding Cytochrome Oxidases and Quinol Monooxygenase Blocks the Aerobic-Anaerobic Shift in Escherichia coli K-12 MG1655 ▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2010;76(19):6529-6540.
The constitutive activation of the anoxic redox control transcriptional regulator (ArcA) in Escherichia coli during aerobic growth, with the consequent production of a strain that exhibits anaerobic physiology even in the presence of air, is reported in this work. Removal of three terminal cytochrome oxidase genes (cydAB, cyoABCD, and cbdAB) and a quinol monooxygenase gene (ygiN) from the E. coli K-12 MG1655 genome resulted in the activation of ArcA aerobically. These mutations resulted in reduction of the oxygen uptake rate by nearly 98% and production of d-lactate as a sole by-product under oxic and anoxic conditions. The knockout strain exhibited nearly identical physiological behaviors under both conditions, suggesting that the mutations resulted in significant metabolic and regulatory perturbations. In order to fully understand the physiology of this mutant and to identify underlying metabolic and regulatory reasons that prevent the transition from an aerobic to an anaerobic phenotype, we utilized whole-genome transcriptome analysis, 13C tracing experiments, and physiological characterization. Our analysis showed that the deletions resulted in the activation of anaerobic respiration under oxic conditions and a consequential shift in the content of the quinone pool from ubiquinones to menaquinones. An increase in menaquinone concentration resulted in the activation of ArcA. The activation of the ArcB/ArcA regulatory system led to a major shift in the metabolic flux distribution through the central metabolism of the mutant strain. Flux analysis indicated that the mutant strain had undetectable fluxes around the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle and elevated flux through glycolysis and anaplerotic input to oxaloacetate. Flux and transcriptomics data were highly correlated and showed similar patterns.
PMCID: PMC2950451  PMID: 20709841
18.  Targeting NAD biosynthesis in bacterial pathogens. Structure-based development of inhibitors of nicotinate mononucleotide adenylyltransferase NadD 
Chemistry & biology  2009;16(8):849-861.
The emergence of multidrug-resistant pathogens necessitates the search for new antibiotics acting on previously unexplored targets. Nicotinate mononucleotide adenylyltransferase of the NadD family, an essential enzyme of NAD biosynthesis in most bacteria, was selected as a target for structure-based inhibitor development. Using iterative in silico and in vitro screens we identified small molecule compounds that efficiently inhibited target enzymes from Escherichia coli (ecNadD) and Bacillus anthracis (baNadD) but had no effect on functionally equivalent human enzymes. On-target antibacterial activity was demonstrated for some of the selected inhibitors. A 3D structure of baNadD was solved in complex with one of these inhibitors (3_02) providing mechanistic insights and guidelines for further improvement. Most importantly, the results of this study help validate NadD as a target for the development of antibacterial agents with potential broad-spectrum activity.
PMCID: PMC2770502  PMID: 19716475
19.  A Novel Class of Modular Transporters for Vitamins in Prokaryotes ▿ †  
Journal of Bacteriology  2008;191(1):42-51.
The specific and tightly controlled transport of numerous nutrients and metabolites across cellular membranes is crucial to all forms of life. However, many of the transporter proteins involved have yet to be identified, including the vitamin transporters in various human pathogens, whose growth depends strictly on vitamin uptake. Comparative analysis of the ever-growing collection of microbial genomes coupled with experimental validation enables the discovery of such transporters. Here, we used this approach to discover an abundant class of vitamin transporters in prokaryotes with an unprecedented architecture. These transporters have energy-coupling modules comprised of a conserved transmembrane protein and two nucleotide binding proteins similar to those of ATP binding cassette (ABC) transporters, but unlike ABC transporters, they use small integral membrane proteins to capture specific substrates. We identified 21 families of these substrate capture proteins, each with a different specificity predicted by genome context analyses. Roughly half of the substrate capture proteins (335 cases) have a dedicated energizing module, but in 459 cases distributed among almost 100 gram-positive bacteria, including numerous human pathogens, different and unrelated substrate capture proteins share the same energy-coupling module. The shared use of energy-coupling modules was experimentally confirmed for folate, thiamine, and riboflavin transporters. We propose the name energy-coupling factor transporters for the new class of membrane transporters.
PMCID: PMC2612444  PMID: 18931129
20.  PMAP: databases for analyzing proteolytic events and pathways 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;37(Database issue):D611-D618.
The Proteolysis MAP (PMAP, is a user-friendly website intended to aid the scientific community in reasoning about proteolytic networks and pathways. PMAP is comprised of five databases, linked together in one environment. The foundation databases, ProteaseDB and SubstrateDB, are driven by an automated annotation pipeline that generates dynamic ‘Molecule Pages’, rich in molecular information. PMAP also contains two community annotated databases focused on function; CutDB has information on more than 5000 proteolytic events, and ProfileDB is dedicated to information of the substrate recognition specificity of proteases. Together, the content within these four databases will ultimately feed PathwayDB, which will be comprised of known pathways whose function can be dynamically modeled in a rule-based manner, and hypothetical pathways suggested by semi-automated culling of the literature. A Protease Toolkit is also available for the analysis of proteases and proteolysis. Here, we describe how the databases of PMAP can be used to foster understanding of proteolytic pathways, and equally as significant, to reason about proteolysis.
PMCID: PMC2686432  PMID: 18842634
21.  Glycerate 2-Kinase of Thermotoga maritima and Genomic Reconstruction of Related Metabolic Pathways▿ †  
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;190(5):1773-1782.
Members of a novel glycerate-2-kinase (GK-II) family were tentatively identified in a broad range of species, including eukaryotes and archaea and many bacteria that lack a canonical enzyme of the GarK (GK-I) family. The recently reported three-dimensional structure of GK-II from Thermotoga maritima (TM1585; PDB code 2b8n) revealed a new fold distinct from other known kinase families. Here, we verified the enzymatic activity of TM1585, assessed its kinetic characteristics, and used directed mutagenesis to confirm the essential role of the two active-site residues Lys-47 and Arg-325. The main objective of this study was to apply comparative genomics for the reconstruction of metabolic pathways associated with GK-II in all bacteria and, in particular, in T. maritima. Comparative analyses of ∼400 bacterial genomes revealed a remarkable variety of pathways that lead to GK-II-driven utilization of glycerate via a glycolysis/gluconeogenesis route. In the case of T. maritima, a three-step serine degradation pathway was inferred based on the tentative identification of two additional enzymes, serine-pyruvate aminotransferase and hydroxypyruvate reductase (TM1400 and TM1401, respectively), that convert serine to glycerate via hydroxypyruvate. Both enzymatic activities were experimentally verified, and the entire pathway was validated by its in vitro reconstitution.
PMCID: PMC2258669  PMID: 18156253
22.  Transcriptional regulation of NAD metabolism in bacteria: NrtR family of Nudix-related regulators 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;36(6):2047-2059.
A novel family of transcription factors responsible for regulation of various aspects of NAD synthesis in a broad range of bacteria was identified by comparative genomics approach. Regulators of this family (here termed NrtR for Nudix-related transcriptional regulators), currently annotated as ADP-ribose pyrophosphatases from the Nudix family, are composed of an N-terminal Nudix-like effector domain and a C-terminal DNA-binding HTH-like domain. NrtR regulons were reconstructed in diverse bacterial genomes by identification and comparative analysis of NrtR-binding sites upstream of genes involved in NAD biosynthetic pathways. The candidate NrtR-binding DNA motifs showed significant variability between microbial lineages, although the common consensus sequence could be traced for most of them. Bioinformatics predictions were experimentally validated by gel mobility shift assays for two NrtR family representatives. ADP-ribose, the product of glycohydrolytic cleavage of NAD, was found to suppress the in vitro binding of NrtR proteins to their DNA target sites. In addition to a major role in the direct regulation of NAD homeostasis, some members of NrtR family appear to have been recruited for the regulation of other metabolic pathways, including sugar pentoses utilization and biogenesis of phosphoribosyl pyrophosphate. This work and the accompanying study of NiaR regulon demonstrate significant variability of regulatory strategies for control of NAD metabolic pathway in bacteria.
PMCID: PMC2330246  PMID: 18276643
23.  Transcriptional regulation of NAD metabolism in bacteria: genomic reconstruction of NiaR (YrxA) regulon 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;36(6):2032-2046.
A comparative genomic approach was used to reconstruct transcriptional regulation of NAD biosynthesis in bacteria containing orthologs of Bacillus subtilis gene yrxA, a previously identified niacin-responsive repressor of NAD de novo synthesis. Members of YrxA family (re-named here NiaR) are broadly conserved in the Bacillus/Clostridium group and in the deeply branching Fusobacteria and Thermotogales lineages. We analyzed upstream regions of genes associated with NAD biosynthesis to identify candidate NiaR-binding DNA motifs and assess the NiaR regulon content in these species. Representatives of the two distinct types of candidate NiaR-binding sites, characteristic of the Firmicutes and Thermotogales, were verified by an electrophoretic mobility shift assay. In addition to transcriptional control of the nadABC genes, the NiaR regulon in some species extends to niacin salvage (the pncAB genes) and includes uncharacterized membrane proteins possibly involved in niacin transport. The involvement in niacin uptake proposed for one of these proteins (re-named NiaP), encoded by the B. subtilis gene yceI, was experimentally verified. In addition to bacteria, members of the NiaP family are conserved in multicellular eukaryotes, including human, pointing to possible NaiP involvement in niacin utilization in these organisms. Overall, the analysis of the NiaR and NrtR regulons (described in the accompanying paper) revealed mechanisms of transcriptional regulation of NAD metabolism in nearly a hundred diverse bacteria.
PMCID: PMC2330245  PMID: 18276644
24.  CutDB: a proteolytic event database 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;35(Database issue):D546-D549.
Beyond the well-known role of proteolytic machinery in protein degradation and turnover, many specialized proteases play a key role in various regulatory processes. Thousands of highly specific proteolytic events are associated with normal and pathological conditions, including bacterial and viral infections. However, the information about individual proteolytic events is dispersed over multiple publications and is not easily available for large-scale analysis. CutDB is one of the first systematic efforts to build an easily accessible collection of documented proteolytic events for natural proteins in vivo or in vitro. A CutDB entry is defined by a unique combination of these three attributes: protease, protein substrate and cleavage site. Currently, CutDB integrates 3070 proteolytic events for 470 different proteases captured from public archives (such as MEROPS and HPRD) and publications. CutDB supports various types of data searches and displays, including clickable network diagrams. Most importantly, CutDB is a community annotation resource based on a Wikipedia approach, providing a convenient user interface to input new data online. A recent contribution of 568 proteolytic events by several experts in the field of matrix metallopeptidases suggests that this approach will significantly accelerate the development of CutDB content. CutDB is publicly available at .
PMCID: PMC1669773  PMID: 17142225
25.  Comparative Genomics of NAD Biosynthesis in Cyanobacteria 
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(8):3012-3023.
Biosynthesis of NAD(P) cofactors is of special importance for cyanobacteria due to their role in photosynthesis and respiration. Despite significant progress in understanding NAD(P) biosynthetic machinery in some model organisms, relatively little is known about its implementation in cyanobacteria. We addressed this problem by a combination of comparative genome analysis with verification experiments in the model system of Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803. A detailed reconstruction of the NAD(P) metabolic subsystem using the SEED genomic platform ( helped us accurately annotate respective genes in the entire set of 13 cyanobacterial species with completely sequenced genomes available at the time. Comparative analysis of operational variants implemented in this divergent group allowed us to elucidate both conserved (de novo and universal pathways) and variable (recycling and salvage pathways) aspects of this subsystem. Focused genetic and biochemical experiments confirmed several conjectures about the key aspects of this subsystem. (i) The product of the slr1691 gene, a homolog of Escherichia coli gene nadE containing an additional nitrilase-like N-terminal domain, is a NAD synthetase capable of utilizing glutamine as an amide donor in vitro. (ii) The product of the sll1916 gene, a homolog of E. coli gene nadD, is a nicotinic acid mononucleotide-preferring adenylyltransferase. This gene is essential for survival and cannot be compensated for by an alternative nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN)-preferring adenylyltransferase (slr0787 gene). (iii) The product of the slr0788 gene is a nicotinamide-preferring phosphoribosyltransferase involved in the first step of the two-step nondeamidating utilization of nicotinamide (NMN shunt). (iv) The physiological role of this pathway encoded by a conserved gene cluster, slr0787-slr0788, is likely in the recycling of endogenously generated nicotinamide, as supported by the inability of this organism to utilize exogenously provided niacin. Positional clustering and the cooccurrence profile of the respective genes across a diverse collection of cellular organisms provide evidence of horizontal transfer events in the evolutionary history of this pathway.
PMCID: PMC1446974  PMID: 16585762

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