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1.  Non-Invasive Imaging of Tumors by Monitoring Autotaxin Activity Using an Enzyme-Activated Near-Infrared Fluorogenic Substrate 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79065.
Autotaxin (ATX), an autocrine motility factor that is highly upregulated in metastatic cancer, is a lysophospholipase D enzyme that produces the lipid second messenger lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) from lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC). Dysregulation of the lysolipid signaling pathway is central to the pathophysiology of numerous cancers, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other inflammatory diseases. Consequently, the ATX/LPA pathway has emerged as an important source of biomarkers and therapeutic targets. Herein we describe development and validation of a fluorogenic analog of LPC (AR-2) that enables visualization of ATX activity in vivo. AR-2 exhibits minimal fluorescence until it is activated by ATX, which substantially increases fluorescence in the near-infrared (NIR) region, the optimal spectral window for in vivo imaging. In mice with orthotopic ATX-expressing breast cancer tumors, ATX activated AR-2 fluorescence. Administration of AR-2 to tumor-bearing mice showed high fluorescence in the tumor and low fluorescence in most healthy tissues with tumor fluorescence correlated with ATX levels. Pretreatment of mice with an ATX inhibitor selectively decreased fluorescence in the tumor. Together these data suggest that fluorescence directly correlates with ATX activity and its tissue expression. The data show that AR-2 is a non-invasive and selective tool that enables visualization and quantitation of ATX-expressing tumors and monitoring ATX activity in vivo.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079065
PMCID: PMC3835791  PMID: 24278115
2.  A Whole-Cell Phenotypic Screening Platform for Identifying Methylerythritol Phosphate Pathway-Selective Inhibitors as Novel Antibacterial Agents 
Isoprenoid biosynthesis is essential for survival of all living organisms. More than 50,000 unique isoprenoids occur naturally, with each constructed from two simple five-carbon precursors: isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). Two pathways for the biosynthesis of IPP and DMAPP are found in nature. Humans exclusively use the mevalonate (MVA) pathway, while most bacteria, including all Gram-negative and many Gram-positive species, use the unrelated methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway. Here we report the development of a novel, whole-cell phenotypic screening platform to identify compounds that selectively inhibit the MEP pathway. Strains of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium were engineered to have separately inducible MEP (native) and MVA (nonnative) pathways. These strains, RMC26 and CT31-7d, were then used to differentiate MVA pathway- and MEP pathway-specific perturbation. Compounds that inhibit MEP pathway-dependent bacterial growth but leave MVA-dependent growth unaffected represent MEP pathway-selective antibacterials. This screening platform offers three significant results. First, the compound is antibacterial and is therefore cell permeant, enabling access to the intracellular target. Second, the compound inhibits one or more MEP pathway enzymes. Third, the MVA pathway is unaffected, suggesting selectivity for targeting the bacterial versus host pathway. The cell lines also display increased sensitivity to two reported MEP pathway-specific inhibitors, further biasing the platform toward inhibitors selective for the MEP pathway. We demonstrate development of a robust, high-throughput screening platform that combines phenotypic and target-based screening that can identify MEP pathway-selective antibacterials simply by monitoring optical density as the readout for cell growth/inhibition.
doi:10.1128/AAC.00987-12
PMCID: PMC3421842  PMID: 22777049
3.  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.
doi:10.1128/JB.187.24.8395-8402.2005
PMCID: PMC1316992  PMID: 16321944
4.  The Sorbitol Phosphotransferase System Is Responsible for Transport of 2-C-Methyl-d-Erythritol into Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium 
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(2):473-480.
2-C-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate is the first committed intermediate in the biosynthesis of the isoprenoid precursors isopentenyl diphosphate and dimethylallyl diphosphate. Supplementation of the growth medium with 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol has been shown to complement disruptions in the Escherichia coli gene for 1-deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate synthase, the enzyme that synthesizes the immediate precursor of 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate. In order to be utilized in isoprenoid biosynthesis, 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol must be phosphorylated. We describe the construction of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium strain RMC26, in which the essential gene encoding 1-deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate synthase has been disrupted by insertion of a synthetic mevalonate operon consisting of the yeast ERG8, ERG12, and ERG19 genes, responsible for converting mevalonate to isopentenyl diphosphate under the control of an arabinose-inducible promoter. Random mutagenesis of RMC26 produced defects in the sorbitol phosphotransferase system that prevented the transport of 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol into the cell. RMC26 and mutant strains of RMC26 unable to grow on 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol were incubated in buffer containing mevalonate and deuterium-labeled 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol. Ubiquinone-8 was isolated from these cells and analyzed for deuterium content. Efficient incorporation of deuterium was observed for RMC26. However, there was no evidence of deuterium incorporation into the isoprenoid side chain of ubiquinone Q8 in the RMC26 mutants.
doi:10.1128/JB.186.2.473-480.2004
PMCID: PMC305747  PMID: 14702317
5.  1-Deoxy-d-Xylulose 5-Phosphate Synthase, the Gene Product of Open Reading Frame (ORF) 2816 and ORF 2895 in Rhodobacter capsulatus 
Journal of Bacteriology  2001;183(1):1-11.
In eubacteria, green algae, and plant chloroplasts, isopentenyl diphosphate, a key intermediate in the biosynthesis of isoprenoids, is synthesized by the methylerythritol phosphate pathway. The five carbons of the basic isoprenoid unit are assembled by joining pyruvate and d-glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate. The reaction is catalyzed by the thiamine diphosphate-dependent enzyme 1-deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate synthase. In Rhodobacter capsulatus, two open reading frames (ORFs) carry the genes that encode 1-deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate synthase. ORF 2816 is located in the photosynthesis-related gene cluster, along with most of the genes required for synthesis of the photosynthetic machinery of the bacterium, whereas ORF 2895 is located elsewhere in the genome. The proteins encoded by ORF 2816 and ORF 2895, 1-deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate synthase A and B, containing a His6 tag, were synthesized in Escherichia coli and purified to greater than 95% homogeneity in two steps. 1-Deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate synthase A appears to be a homodimer with 68 kDa subunits. A new assay was developed, and the following steady-state kinetic constants were determined for 1-deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate synthase A and B: Kmpyruvate = 0.61 and 3.0 mM, Kmd-glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate = 150 and 120 μM, and Vmax = 1.9 and 1.4 μmol/min/mg in 200 mM sodium citrate (pH 7.4). The ORF encoding 1-deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate synthase B complemented the disrupted essential dxs gene in E. coli strain FH11.
doi:10.1128/JB.183.1.1-11.2001
PMCID: PMC94844  PMID: 11114895

Results 1-5 (5)