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1.  Structural basis for the methylation of A1408 in 16S rRNA by a panaminoglycoside resistance methyltransferase NpmA from a clinical isolate and analysis of the NpmA interactions with the 30S ribosomal subunit 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;39(5):1903-1918.
NpmA, a methyltransferase that confers resistance to aminoglycosides was identified in an Escherichia coli clinical isolate. It belongs to the kanamycin–apramycin methyltransferase (Kam) family and specifically methylates the 16S rRNA at the N1 position of A1408. We determined the structures of apo-NpmA and its complexes with S-adenosylmethionine (AdoMet) and S-adenosylhomocysteine (AdoHcy) at 2.4, 2.7 and 1.68 Å, respectively. We generated a number of NpmA variants with alanine substitutions and studied their ability to bind the cofactor, to methylate A1408 in the 30S subunit, and to confer resistance to kanamycin in vivo. Residues D30, W107 and W197 were found to be essential. We have also analyzed the interactions between NpmA and the 30S subunit by footprinting experiments and computational docking. Helices 24, 42 and 44 were found to be the main NpmA-binding site. Both experimental and theoretical analyses suggest that NpmA flips out the target nucleotide A1408 to carry out the methylation. NpmA is plasmid-encoded and can be transferred between pathogenic bacteria; therefore it poses a threat to the successful use of aminoglycosides in clinical practice. The results presented here will assist in the development of specific NpmA inhibitors that could restore the potential of aminoglycoside antibiotics.
PMCID: PMC3061052  PMID: 21062819
2.  Tobramycin at subinhibitory concentration inhibits the RhlI/R quorum sensing system in a Pseudomonas aeruginosa environmental isolate 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2010;10:148.
Antibiotics are not only small molecules with therapeutic activity in killing or inhibiting microbial growth, but can also act as signaling molecules affecting gene expression in bacterial communities. A few studies have demonstrated the effect of tobramycin as a signal molecule on gene expression at the transcriptional level and its effect on bacterial physiology and virulence. These have shown that subinhibitory concentrations (SICs) of tobramycin induce biofilm formation and enhance the capabilities of P. aeruginosa to colonize specific environments.
Environmental P. aeruginosa strain PUPa3 was grown in the presence of different concentrations of tobramycin and it was determined at which highest concentration SIC, growth, total protein levels and translation efficiency were not affected. At SIC it was then established if phenotypes related to cell-cell signaling known as quorum sensing were altered.
In this study it was determined whether tobramycin sensing/response at SICs was affecting the two independent AHL QS systems in an environmental P. aeruginosa strain. It is reasonable to assume that P. aeruginosa encounters tobramycin in nature since it is produced by niche mate Streptomyces tenebrarius. It was established that SICs of tobramycin inhibited the RhlI/R system by reducing levels of C4-HSL production. This effect was not due to a decrease of rhlI transcription and required tobramycin-ribosome interaction.
Tobramycin signaling in P. aeruginosa occurs and different strains can have a different response. Understanding the tobramycin response by an environmental P. aeruginosa will highlight possible inter-species signalling taking place in nature and can possible also have important implications in the mode of utilization for human use of this very important antibiotic.
PMCID: PMC2898818  PMID: 20525206
3.  Structural basis for the methylation of G1405 in 16S rRNA by aminoglycoside resistance methyltransferase Sgm from an antibiotic producer: a diversity of active sites in m7G methyltransferases 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;38(12):4120-4132.
Sgm (Sisomicin-gentamicin methyltransferase) from antibiotic-producing bacterium Micromonospora zionensis is an enzyme that confers resistance to aminoglycosides like gentamicin and sisomicin by specifically methylating G1405 in bacterial 16S rRNA. Sgm belongs to the aminoglycoside resistance methyltransferase (Arm) family of enzymes that have been recently found to spread by horizontal gene transfer among disease-causing bacteria. Structural characterization of Arm enzymes is the key to understand their mechanism of action and to develop inhibitors that would block their activity. Here we report the structure of Sgm in complex with cofactors S-adenosylmethionine (AdoMet) and S-adenosylhomocysteine (AdoHcy) at 2.0 and 2.1 Å resolution, respectively, and results of mutagenesis and rRNA footprinting, and protein-substrate docking. We propose the mechanism of methylation of G1405 by Sgm and compare it with other m7G methyltransferases, revealing a surprising diversity of active sites and binding modes for the same basic reaction of RNA modification. This analysis can serve as a stepping stone towards developing drugs that would specifically block the activity of Arm methyltransferases and thereby re-sensitize pathogenic bacteria to aminoglycoside antibiotics.
PMCID: PMC2896518  PMID: 20194115

Results 1-3 (3)