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1.  The crystal structure and biochemical characterization of Kif15: a bifunctional molecular motor involved in bipolar spindle formation and neuronal development 
The structural and biochemical study of Kif15 provides insight into this potential drug target and allows comparison with Eg5, a kinesin that partially shares the functions of Kif15.
Kinesins constitute a superfamily of microtubule-based motor proteins with important cellular functions ranging from intracellular transport to cell division. Some kinesin family members function during the mitotic phase of the eukaryotic cell cycle and are crucial for the successful progression of cell division. In the early stages of mitosis, during prometaphase, certain kinesins are required for the formation of the bipolar spindle, such as Eg5 and Kif15, which seem to possess partially overlapping functions. Because kinesins transform the chemical energy from ATP hydrolysis into mechanical work, inhibition of their function is a tractable approach for drug development. Drugs targeting Eg5 have shown promise as anticancer agents. Kif15 has recently come to the fore because it can substitute the functions of Eg5, and may itself have potential as a prospective drug target. Here, the initial biochemical, kinetic and structural characterization of Kif15 is reported and it is compared with the functionally related motor Eg5. Although Kif15 contains ADP in the catalytic site, its motor-domain structure was captured in the ‘ATP-like’ configuration, with the neck linker docked to the catalytic core. The interaction of Kif15 with microtubules was also investigated and structural differences between these two motors were elucidated which indicate profound differences in their mode of action, in agreement with current models of microtubule cross-linking and sliding.
PMCID: PMC3919264  PMID: 24419385
human kinesins; mitosis; bipolar spindle formation; Kif15; Eg5
2.  Structure of Staphylococcus aureus 1,4-dihydroxy-2-naphthoyl-CoA synthase (MenB) in complex with acetoacetyl-CoA 
The structure of S. aureus MenB, an enzyme in the biosynthetic pathway to vitamin K2, has been determined and compared with the enzyme derived from another important pathogen, M. tuberculosis.
Vitamin K2, or menaquinone, is an essential cofactor for many organisms and the enzymes involved in its biosynthesis are potential antimicrobial drug targets. One of these enzymes, 1,4-dihydroxy-2-naphthoyl-CoA synthase (MenB) from the pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, has been obtained in recombinant form and its quaternary structure has been analyzed in solution. Cubic crystals of the enzyme allowed a low-resolution structure (2.9 Å) to be determined. The asymmetric unit consists of two subunits and a crystallographic threefold axis of symmetry generates a hexamer consistent with size-exclusion chromatography. Analytical ultracentrifugation indicates the presence of six states in solution, monomeric through to hexameric, with the dimer noted as being particularly stable. MenB displays the crotonase-family fold with distinct N- and C-terminal domains and a flexible segment of structure around the active site. The smaller C-terminal domain plays an important role in oligomerization and also in substrate binding. The presence of acetoacetyl-CoA in one of the two active sites present in the asymmetric unit indicates how part of the substrate binds and facilitates comparisons with the structure of Mycobacterium tuberculosis MenB.
PMCID: PMC2339762  PMID: 18007038
crotonase; synthase; vitamin biosynthesis; menaquinone; MenB

Results 1-2 (2)