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1.  Inactivation of Fructose-1,6-Bisphosphate Aldolase Prevents Optimal Co-catabolism of Glycolytic and Gluconeogenic Carbon Substrates in Mycobacterium tuberculosis 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(5):e1004144.
Metabolic pathways used by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) to establish and maintain infections are important for our understanding of pathogenesis and the development of new chemotherapies. To investigate the role of fructose-1,6-bisphosphate aldolase (FBA), we engineered an Mtb strain in which FBA levels were regulated by anhydrotetracycline. Depletion of FBA resulted in clearance of Mtb in both the acute and chronic phases of infection in vivo, and loss of viability in vitro when cultured on single carbon sources. Consistent with prior reports of Mtb's ability to co-catabolize multiple carbon sources, this in vitro essentiality could be overcome when cultured on mixtures of glycolytic and gluconeogenic carbon sources, enabling generation of an fba knockout (Δfba). In vitro studies of Δfba however revealed that lack of FBA could only be compensated for by a specific balance of glucose and butyrate in which growth and metabolism of butyrate were determined by Mtb's ability to co-catabolize glucose. These data thus not only evaluate FBA as a potential drug target in both replicating and persistent Mtb, but also expand our understanding of the multiplicity of in vitro conditions that define the essentiality of Mtb's FBA in vivo.
Author Summary
The development of new chemotherapies targeting Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) will benefit from genetic evaluation of potential drug targets and a better understanding of the pathways required by Mtb to establish and maintain chronic infections. We employed a genetic approach to investigate the essentiality of fructose-1,6-bisphosphate aldolase (FBA) for growth and survival of Mtb in vitro and in mice. A conditional fba mutant revealed that Mtb requires FBA for growth in the acute phase and for survival in the chronic phase of mouse infections. In vitro essentiality of fba was strictly condition-dependent. An FBA deletion mutant (Δfba) required a balanced combination of carbon substrates entering metabolism above and below the FBA-catalyzed reaction for growth and died in media with single carbon sources and in mouse lungs. Death of Δfba in vitro was associated with the perturbation of intracellular metabolites. These studies highlight how a conditional fba mutant helped identify conditions in which FBA is dispensable for growth of Mtb, evaluate FBA as a potential target for eliminating persistent bacilli and offer insight into metabolic regulation of carbon co-catabolism in Mtb.
PMCID: PMC4031216  PMID: 24851864
2.  Expression and characterization of soluble 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol kinase from bacterial pathogens 
Chemistry & biology  2009;16(12):1230-1239.
Many bacterial pathogens utilize the 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate pathway for biosynthesizing isoprenoid precursors, a pathway that is vital for bacterial survival and absent from human cells, providing a potential source of drug targets. However, the characterization of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol (CDP-ME) kinase (IspE) has been hindered due to a lack of enantiopure CDP-ME and difficulty in obtaining pure IspE. Here, enantiopure CDP-ME was chemically synthesized and recombinant IspE from bacterial pathogens were purified and characterized. Although gene disruption was not possible in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, IspE is essential in Mycobacterium smegmatis. The biochemical and kinetic characteristics of IspE provide the basis for development of a high throughput screen and structural characterization.
PMCID: PMC4020808  PMID: 20064433
3.  Co-Immunization of Plasmid DNA Encoding IL-12 and IL-18 with Bacillus Calmette-Guérin Vaccine against Progressive Tuberculosis 
Yonsei Medical Journal  2011;52(6):1008-1015.
Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine has widely been used to immunize against tuberculosis, but its protective efficacy is variable in adult pulmonary tuberculosis, while it is not efficiently protective against progressive infection of virulent Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains. In this study, the protective effects of plasmid DNA vaccine constructs encoding IL-12 or IL-18 with the BCG vaccine were evaluated against progressive infection of M. tuberculosis, using mouse aerosol challenge model.
Materials and Methods
Plasmid DNA vaccine constructs encoding IL-12 or IL-18 were constructed and mice were immunized with the BCG vaccine or with IL-12 DNA or IL-18 DNA vaccine constructs together with the BCG vaccine.
The BCG vaccine induced high level of interferon gamma (IFN-γ) but co-immunization of IL-12 or IL-18 DNA vaccine constructs with the BCG vaccine induced significantly higher level of IFN-γ than a single BCG vaccine. The BCG vaccine was highly protective at early stage of M. tuberculosis infection, but its protective efficacy was reduced at later stage of infection. The co-immunization of IL-12 DNA vaccine constructs with the BCG vaccine was slightly more protective at early stage of infection and was significantly more protective at later stage infection than a single BCG vaccine.
Co-immunization of IL-12 DNA vaccine with the BCG vaccine induced more protective immunity and was more effective for protection against progressive infection of M. tuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC3220262  PMID: 22028167
Tuberculosis; BCG; IL-12; IL-18; DNA vaccine
4.  Evaluating the Sensitivity of Mycobacterium tuberculosis to Biotin Deprivation Using Regulated Gene Expression 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(9):e1002264.
In the search for new drug targets, we evaluated the biotin synthetic pathway of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) and constructed an Mtb mutant lacking the biotin biosynthetic enzyme 7,8-diaminopelargonic acid synthase, BioA. In biotin-free synthetic media, ΔbioA did not produce wild-type levels of biotinylated proteins, and therefore did not grow and lost viability. ΔbioA was also unable to establish infection in mice. Conditionally-regulated knockdown strains of Mtb similarly exhibited impaired bacterial growth and viability in vitro and in mice, irrespective of the timing of transcriptional silencing. Biochemical studies further showed that BioA activity has to be reduced by approximately 99% to prevent growth. These studies thus establish that de novo biotin synthesis is essential for Mtb to establish and maintain a chronic infection in a murine model of TB. Moreover, these studies provide an experimental strategy to systematically rank the in vivo value of potential drug targets in Mtb and other pathogens.
Author Summary
We evaluated the biotin synthetic pathway of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) as a new drug target by first generating an Mtb deletion mutant, ΔbioA, in which the biotin biosynthetic enzyme 7,8-diaminopelargonic acid synthase (BioA) has been inactivated. This mutant grew in the presence of biotin or des-thiobiotin, but not with an intermediate of the biotin biosynthesis pathway that requires BioA to be converted into biotin. Without exogenous biotin or des-thiobiotin, ΔbioA, was unable to produce biotinylated proteins, which are required for the biosynthesis of fatty acids, and thus died in biotin-free media. Using a regulatable promoter and different ribosome binding sequences we next constructed tightly controlled TetON mutants, in which expression of BioA could be induced with tetracyclines, but was inhibited in their absence. Characterization of these mutants during infections demonstrated that de novo biotin synthesis is not only required to establish infections but also to maintain bacterial persistence. Inhibition of BioA or other enzymes of the biotin biosynthesis pathways could thus be used to kill Mtb during both acute and chronic infections. Biochemical and immunological analyses of different Mtb mutants indicate that drugs targeting BioA would have to inactive approximately 99% of its activity to be effective.
PMCID: PMC3182931  PMID: 21980288
5.  Synthesis of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 2-phosphate and kinetic studies of Mycobacterium tuberculosis IspF, a potential drug target 
Chemistry & biology  2010;17(2):117-122.
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.
PMCID: PMC2837070  PMID: 20189102
6.  Regulation of Polar Peptidoglycan Biosynthesis by Wag31 Phosphorylation in Mycobacteria 
BMC Microbiology  2010;10:327.
Sensing and responding to environmental changes is a central aspect of cell division regulation. Mycobacterium tuberculosis contains eleven Ser/Thr kinases, two of which, PknA and PknB, are key signaling molecules that regulate cell division/morphology. One substrate of these kinases is Wag31, and we previously showed that partial depletion of Wag31 caused morphological changes indicative of cell wall defects, and that the phosphorylation state of Wag31 affected cell growth in mycobacteria. In the present study, we further characterized the role of the Wag31 phosphorylation in polar peptidoglycan biosynthesis.
We demonstrate that the differential growth among cells expressing different wag31 alleles (wild-type, phosphoablative, or phosphomimetic) is caused by, at least in part, dissimilar nascent peptidoglycan biosynthesis. The phosphorylation state of Wag31 is found to be important for protein-protein interactions between the Wag31 molecules, and thus, for its polar localization. Consistent with these results, cells expressing a phosphomimetic wag31 allele have a higher enzymatic activity in the peptidoglycan biosynthetic pathway.
The Wag31Mtb phosphorylation is a novel molecular mechanism by which Wag31Mtb regulates peptidoglycan synthesis and thus, optimal growth in mycobacteria.
PMCID: PMC3019181  PMID: 21190553
7.  Chemoenzymatic synthesis of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol: A substrate for IspE 
Tetrahedron letters  2008;49(29-30):4461-4463.
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.
PMCID: PMC2832204  PMID: 19088853
8.  The Mycobacterium tuberculosis MEP (2C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate) pathway as a new drug target 
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.
PMCID: PMC2646905  PMID: 18793870
Tuberculosis; 2C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate pathway; high throughput screening campaigns; anti-infectives
9.  Characterization of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis 4-Diphosphocytidyl-2-C-Methyl-d-Erythritol Synthase: Potential for Drug Development▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;189(24):8922-8927.
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.
PMCID: PMC2168624  PMID: 17921290

Results 1-9 (9)