Search tips
Search criteria

Results 1-25 (57)

Clipboard (0)

Select a Filter Below

Year of Publication
more »
1.  Crystal Structures of Type I Dehydroquinate Dehydratase in Complex with Quinate and Shikimate Suggest a Novel Mechanism of Schiff Base Formation 
Biochemistry  2014;53(5):872-880.
A component of the shikimate biosynthetic pathway, dehydroquinate dehydratase (DHQD) catalyzes the dehydration of 3-dehydroquniate (DHQ) to 3-dehydroshikimate. In the type I DHQD reaction mechanism a lysine forms a Schiff base intermediate with DHQ. The Schiff base acts as an electron sink to facilitate the catalytic dehydration. To address the mechanism of Schiff base formation, we determined structures of the Salmonella enterica wild-type DHQD in complex with the substrate analogue quinate and the product analogue shikimate. In addition, we determined the structure of the K170M mutant (Lys170 being the Schiff base forming residue) in complex with quinate. Combined with nuclear magnetic resonance and isothermal titration calorimetry data that revealed altered binding of the analogue to the K170M mutant, these structures suggest a model of Schiff base formation characterized by the dynamic interplay of opposing forces acting on either side of the substrate. On the side distant from the substrate 3-carbonyl group, closure of the enzyme’s β8−α8 loop is proposed to guide DHQ into the proximity of the Schiff base-forming Lys170. On the 3-carbonyl side of the substrate, Lys170 sterically alters the position of DHQ’s reactive ketone, aligning it at an angle conducive for nucleophilic attack. This study of a type I DHQD reveals the interplay between the enzyme and substrate required for the correct orientation of a functional group constrained within a cyclic substrate.
PMCID: PMC3985847  PMID: 24437575
2.  Structure-Based Mutational Studies of Substrate Inhibition of Betaine Aldehyde Dehydrogenase BetB from Staphylococcus aureus 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(13):3992-4002.
Inhibition of enzyme activity by high concentrations of substrate and/or cofactor is a general phenomenon demonstrated in many enzymes, including aldehyde dehydrogenases. Here we show that the uncharacterized protein BetB (SA2613) from Staphylococcus aureus is a highly specific betaine aldehyde dehydrogenase, which exhibits substrate inhibition at concentrations of betaine aldehyde as low as 0.15 mM. In contrast, the aldehyde dehydrogenase YdcW from Escherichia coli, which is also active against betaine aldehyde, shows no inhibition by this substrate. Using the crystal structures of BetB and YdcW, we performed a structure-based mutational analysis of BetB and introduced the YdcW residues into the BetB active site. From a total of 32 mutations, those in five residues located in the substrate binding pocket (Val288, Ser290, His448, Tyr450, and Trp456) greatly reduced the substrate inhibition of BetB, whereas the double mutant protein H448F/Y450L demonstrated a complete loss of substrate inhibition. Substrate inhibition was also reduced by mutations of the semiconserved Gly234 (to Ser, Thr, or Ala) located in the BetB NAD+ binding site, suggesting some cooperativity between the cofactor and substrate binding sites. Substrate docking analysis of the BetB and YdcW active sites revealed that the wild-type BetB can bind betaine aldehyde in both productive and nonproductive conformations, whereas only the productive binding mode can be modeled in the active sites of YdcW and the BetB mutant proteins with reduced substrate inhibition. Thus, our results suggest that the molecular mechanism of substrate inhibition of BetB is associated with the nonproductive binding of betaine aldehyde.
PMCID: PMC4054205  PMID: 24747910
3.  Incident light adjustable solar cell by periodic nanolens architecture 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:6879.
Could nanostructures act as lenses to focus incident light for efficient utilization of photovoltaics? Is it possible, in order to avoid serious recombination loss, to realize periodic nanostructures in solar cells without direct etching in a light absorbing semiconductor? Here we propose and demonstrate a promising architecture to shape nanolenses on a planar semiconductor. Optically transparent and electrically conductive nanolenses simultaneously provide the optical benefit of modulating the incident light and the electrical advantage of supporting carrier transportation. A transparent indium-tin-oxide (ITO) nanolens was designed to focus the incident light-spectrum in focal lengths overlapping to a strong electric field region for high carrier collection efficiency. The ITO nanolens effectively broadens near-zero reflection and provides high tolerance to the incident light angles. We present a record high light-conversion efficiency of 16.0% for a periodic nanostructured Si solar cell.
PMCID: PMC4220283  PMID: 25371099
4.  On the Follow-Up of Genome-Wide Association Studies: An Overall Test for the Most Promising S.N.P.’s 
Genetic epidemiology  2011;35(5):303-309.
Even in large-scale genome-wide association studies, only a fraction of the true associations are detected at the genome-wide significance level. When few or no associations reach the significance threshold, one strategy is to follow-up on the most promising candidates, i.e. the single nucleotide polymorphisms with the smallest association-test p-values, by genotyping them in additional studies. In this communication, we propose an overall test for genome-wide association studies that analyzes the SNP’s with the most promising p-values simultaneously and thereby allows an early assessment of whether the follow- up of the selected SNP’s is likely promising. We theoretically derive the properties of the proposed overall test under the null hypothesis and assess its power based on simulation studies. An application to a GWAS for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease suggests that there are true association signals among the top SNPs and that an additional follow-up study is promising.
PMCID: PMC4096304  PMID: 21374717
genome wide association studies; snps association tests; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; statistical genetics; multiple testing
5.  Structure of the LdcB LD-Carboxypeptidase Reveals the Molecular Basis of Peptidoglycan Recognition 
Structure(London, England:1993)  2014;22(7):949-960.
Peptidoglycan surrounds the bacterial cytoplasmic membrane to protect the cell against osmolysis. The biosynthesis of peptidoglycan, made of glycan strands crosslinked by short peptides, is the target of antibiotics like β-lactams and glycopeptides. Nascent peptidoglycan contains pentapeptides that are trimmed by carboxypeptidases to tetra- and tripeptides. The well-characterized DD-carboxypeptidases hydrolyze the terminal D-alanine from the stem pentapeptide to produce a tetrapeptide. However, few LD-carboxypeptidases that produce tripeptides have been identified, and nothing is known about substrate specificity in these enzymes. We report biochemical properties and crystal structures of the LD-carboxypeptidases LdcB from Streptococcus pneumoniae, Bacillus anthracis, and Bacillus subtilis. The enzymes are active against bacterial cell wall tetrapeptides and adopt a zinc-carboxypeptidase fold characteristic of the LAS superfamily. We have also solved the structure of S. pneumoniae LdcB with a product mimic, elucidating the residues essential for peptidoglycan recognition and the conformational changes that occur on ligand binding.
•A peptidoglycan, peptide stem-trimming carboxypeptidase, LdcB, has been characterized•The crystal structure of LdcB has been solved with a peptidoglycan mimic bound•The LdcB structure undergoes significant conformational change on binding ligand•The exquisite substrate specificity of LdcB has also been demonstrated in vitro
Peptidoglyan is an essential layer surrounding the bacterial cytoplasmic membrane that is matured and trimmed by carboxypeptidases. Hoyland et al. describe the structure of one such carboxypeptidase in the presence of a product mimic, explaining the molecular specificity of the enzyme family.
PMCID: PMC4087270  PMID: 24909784
6.  Targeting DXP synthase in human pathogens: enzyme inhibition and antimicrobial activity of butylacetylphosphonate 
The Journal of antibiotics  2013;67(1):77-83.
The unique methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway for isoprenoid biosynthesis is essential in most bacterial pathogens. The first enzyme in this pathway, 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate (DXP) synthase, catalyzes a distinct thiamin diphosphate (ThDP)-dependent reaction to form DXP from D-glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate (D-GAP) and pyruvate and represents a potential anti-infective drug target. We have previously demonstrated that the unnatural bisubstrate analog, butylacetylphosphonate (BAP), exhibits selective inhibition of Escherichia coli DXP synthase over mammalian ThDP-dependent enzymes. Here, we report the selective inhibition by BAP against recombinant DXP synthase homologs from Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Yersinia pestis, and Salmonella enterica. We also demonstrate antimicrobial activity of BAP against both Gram-negative and Gram-positive strains (including E. coli, S. enterica, Bacillus anthracis), and several clinically isolated pathogens. Our results suggest a mechanism of action involving inhibition of DXP synthase and show that BAP acts synergistically with established antimicrobial agents, highlighting a potential strategy to combat emerging resistance in bacterial pathogens.
PMCID: PMC3946878  PMID: 24169798
DXP synthase; isoprenoid biosynthesis; selective inhibitor; thiamin diphosphate
7.  Virtual High-Throughput Ligand Screening 
In Structural Genomics projects, virtual high-throughput ligand screening can be utilized to provide important functional details for newly determined protein structures. Using a variety of publicly available software tools, it is possible to computationally model, predict, and evaluate how different ligands interact with a given protein. At the Center for Structural Genomics of Infectious Diseases (CSGID) a series of protein analysis, docking and molecular dynamics software is scripted into a single hierarchical pipeline allowing for an exhaustive investigation of protein-ligand interactions. The ability to conduct accurate computational predictions of protein-ligand binding is a vital component in improving both the efficiency and economics of drug discovery. Computational simulations can minimize experimental efforts, the slowest and most cost prohibitive aspect of identifying new therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC4073479  PMID: 24590723
Protein; Ligand; High-throughput screening; Docking; Molecular modeling
8.  Structural, Kinetic and Proteomic Characterization of Acetyl Phosphate-Dependent Bacterial Protein Acetylation 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94816.
The emerging view of Nε-lysine acetylation in eukaryotes is of a relatively abundant post-translational modification (PTM) that has a major impact on the function, structure, stability and/or location of thousands of proteins involved in diverse cellular processes. This PTM is typically considered to arise by the donation of the acetyl group from acetyl-coenzyme A (acCoA) to the ε-amino group of a lysine residue that is reversibly catalyzed by lysine acetyltransferases and deacetylases. Here, we provide genetic, mass spectrometric, biochemical and structural evidence that Nε-lysine acetylation is an equally abundant and important PTM in bacteria. Applying a recently developed, label-free and global mass spectrometric approach to an isogenic set of mutants, we detected acetylation of thousands of lysine residues on hundreds of Escherichia coli proteins that participate in diverse and often essential cellular processes, including translation, transcription and central metabolism. Many of these acetylations were regulated in an acetyl phosphate (acP)-dependent manner, providing compelling evidence for a recently reported mechanism of bacterial Nε-lysine acetylation. These mass spectrometric data, coupled with observations made by crystallography, biochemistry, and additional mass spectrometry showed that this acP-dependent acetylation is both non-enzymatic and specific, with specificity determined by the accessibility, reactivity and three-dimensional microenvironment of the target lysine. Crystallographic evidence shows acP can bind to proteins in active sites and cofactor binding sites, but also potentially anywhere molecules with a phosphate moiety could bind. Finally, we provide evidence that acP-dependent acetylation can impact the function of critical enzymes, including glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, triosephosphate isomerase, and RNA polymerase.
PMCID: PMC3995681  PMID: 24756028
9.  Dissecting direct and indirect genetic effects on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) susceptibility 
Human genetics  2013;132(4):431-441.
Cigarette smoking is the major environmental risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Genome-wide association studies have provided compelling associations for three loci with COPD. In this study, we aimed to estimate direct, i.e., independent from smoking, and indirect effects of those loci on COPD development using mediation analysis. We included a total of 3,424 COPD cases and 1,872 unaffected controls with data on two smoking-related phenotypes: lifetime average smoking intensity and cumulative exposure to tobacco smoke (pack years). Our analysis revealed that effects of two linked variants (rs1051730 and rs8034191) in the AGPHD1/CHRNA3 cluster on COPD development are significantly, yet not entirely, mediated by the smoking-related phenotypes. Approximately 30 % of the total effect of variants in the AGPHD1/CHRNA3 cluster on COPD development was mediated by pack years. Simultaneous analysis of modestly (r2 = 0.21) linked markers in CHRNA3 and IREB2 revealed that an even larger (~42 %) proportion of the total effect of the CHRNA3 locus on COPD was mediated by pack years after adjustment for an IREB2 single nucleotide polymorphism. This study confirms the existence of direct effects of the AGPHD1/CHRNA3, IREB2, FAM13A and HHIP loci on COPD development. While the association of the AGPHD1/CHRNA3 locus with COPD is significantly mediated by smoking-related phenotypes, IREB2 appears to affect COPD independently of smoking.
PMCID: PMC3600068  PMID: 23299987
10.  Acetylation of the Response Regulator RcsB Controls Transcription from a Small RNA Promoter 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(18):4174-4186.
Nε-lysine acetylation was recently discovered on many bacterial proteins that function in diverse cellular processes. Thus, many questions remain unanswered. For example, what mechanisms regulate lysine acetylation? Does acetylation affect physiology? To help answer these questions, we studied the Escherichia coli response regulator and transcription factor RcsB, which is reported to be acetylated in vitro. To characterize RcsB acetylation, we monitored transcription from the rprA promoter, which requires RcsB. The conventional view is that RcsB is activated by phosphorylation through either the Rcs phosphorelay or acetyl phosphate. We affirmed that rprA transcription requires phosphorylated RcsB and showed that acetyl-phosphate (AcP) is a phosphoryl group donor to RcsB. However, a mutant that accumulates AcP (ackA) exhibited a reduction in rprA transcription instead of the predicted increase. rprA transcription also diminished in the cobB mutant, which lacks the only known E. coli protein deacetylase. This suggests the existence of an inhibitory mechanism that involves lysine acetylation, a supposition supported by the observation that RcsB isolated from the ackA or cobB mutant was hyperacetylated. Finally, we used a genetic approach to identify an AckA- and CobB-sensitive lysine (Lys-154) that controls RcsB activity. We propose that acetylation inhibits RcsB activity and that some of this inhibition acts through the acetylation of Lys-154.
PMCID: PMC3754749  PMID: 23852870
11.  Structural characterization of a hypothetical protein: a potential agent involved in trimethylamine metabolism in Catenulispora acidiphila 
Catenulispora acidiphila is a newly identified lineage of actinomycetes that produces antimicrobial activities and represents a promising source of novel antibiotics and secondary metabolites. Among the discovered protein coding genes, 68 % were assigned a putative function, while the remaining 32 % are genes encoding “hypothetical” proteins. Caci_0382 is one of the “hypothetical” proteins that has very few homologs. Sequence analysis shows that the protein belongs to the NTF2-like protein family. The structure of Caci_0382 demonstrates that it shares the same fold and has a similar active site as limonene-1,2-epoxide hydrolase, which suggests that it may have a related function. Using a fluorescence thermal shift assay, we identified stabilizing compounds that suggest potential natural ligands of Caci_0382. Using this information, we determined the crystal structure in complex with trimethylamine to provide a better understanding of the function of this uncharacterized protein.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10969-014-9176-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3955178  PMID: 24562475
Trimethylamine; NTF2-like superfamily; Caci_0382; X-ray crystal structure; Structural genomics
12.  Discovery of Selective Inhibitors of the Clostridium difficile Dehydroquinate Dehydratase 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89356.
A vibrant and healthy gut flora is essential for preventing the proliferation of Clostridium difficile, a pathogenic bacterium that causes severe gastrointestinal symptoms. In fact, most C. difficile infections (CDIs) occur after broad-spectrum antibiotic treatment, which, by eradicating the commensal gut bacteria, allows its spores to proliferate. Hence, a C. difficile specific antibiotic that spares the gut flora would be highly beneficial in treating CDI. Towards this goal, we set out to discover small molecule inhibitors of the C. difficile enzyme dehydroquinate dehydratase (DHQD). DHQD is the 3rd of seven enzymes that compose the shikimate pathway, a metabolic pathway absent in humans, and is present in bacteria as two phylogenetically and mechanistically distinct types. Using a high-throughput screen we identified three compounds that inhibited the type I C. difficile DHQD but not the type II DHQD from Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron, a highly represented commensal gut bacterial species. Kinetic analysis revealed that the compounds inhibit the C. difficile enzyme with Ki values ranging from 10 to 20 µM. Unexpectedly, kinetic and biophysical studies demonstrate that inhibitors also exhibit selectivity between type I DHQDs, inhibiting the C. difficile but not the highly homologous Salmonella enterica DHQD. Therefore, the three identified compounds seem to be promising lead compounds for the development of C. difficile specific antibiotics.
PMCID: PMC3931744  PMID: 24586713
13.  Comparison of serum, EDTA plasma and P100 plasma for luminex-based biomarker multiplex assays in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in the SPIROMICS study 
As a part of the longitudinal Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) study, Subpopulations and Intermediate Outcome Measures in COPD study (SPIROMICS), blood samples are being collected from 3200 subjects with the goal of identifying blood biomarkers for sub-phenotyping patients and predicting disease progression. To determine the most reliable sample type for measuring specific blood analytes in the cohort, a pilot study was performed from a subset of 24 subjects comparing serum, Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) plasma, and EDTA plasma with proteinase inhibitors (P100™).
105 analytes, chosen for potential relevance to COPD, arranged in 12 multiplex and one simplex platform (Myriad-RBM) were evaluated in duplicate from the three sample types from 24 subjects. The reliability coefficient and the coefficient of variation (CV) were calculated. The performance of each analyte and mean analyte levels were evaluated across sample types.
20% of analytes were not consistently detectable in any sample type. Higher reliability and/or smaller CV were determined for 12 analytes in EDTA plasma compared to serum, and for 11 analytes in serum compared to EDTA plasma. While reliability measures were similar for EDTA plasma and P100 plasma for a majority of analytes, CV was modestly increased in P100 plasma for eight analytes. Each analyte within a multiplex produced independent measurement characteristics, complicating selection of sample type for individual multiplexes.
There were notable detectability and measurability differences between serum and plasma. Multiplexing may not be ideal if large reliability differences exist across analytes measured within the multiplex, especially if values differ based on sample type. For some analytes, the large CV should be considered during experimental design, and the use of duplicate and/or triplicate samples may be necessary. These results should prove useful for studies evaluating selection of samples for evaluation of potential blood biomarkers.
PMCID: PMC3928911  PMID: 24397870
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; COPD; SPIROMICS; Biomarkers; Blood analytes; Multiplex assays; P100 plasma; Serum; EDTA plasma; Pilot study
14.  Crystal structure of a type II dehydroquinate dehydratase-like protein from Bifidobacterium longum 
Journal of structural and functional genomics  2013;14(1):10.1007/s10969-013-9149-7.
Dehydroquinate dehydratase (DHQD) catalyzes the third step in the biosynthetic shikimate pathway. Here we identify a Bifidobacterium longum protein with high sequence homology to type II DHQDs but no detectable DHQD activity under standard assay conditions. A crystal structure reveals that the B. longum protein adopts a DHQD-like tertiary structure but a distinct quaternary state. Apparently forming a dimer, the B. longum protein lacks the active site aspartic acid contributed from a neighboring protomer in the type II DHQD dodecamer. Relating to the absence of protein–protein interactions established in the type II DHQD dodecameric assembly, substantial conformational changes distinguish the would-be active site of the B. longum protein. As B. longum possess no other genes with homology to known DHQDs, these findings imply a unique DHQD activity within B. longum.
PMCID: PMC3878977  PMID: 23539270
Post-translational activation; Quaternary structure; Shikimate pathway; X-ray crystal structure; Structural genomics
15.  Correction: A Fluorescence-Based Thermal Shift Assay Identifies Inhibitors of Mitogen Activated Protein Kinase Kinase 4 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):10.1371/annotation/5edeb1de-b76c-4fd9-a3f6-0f1cf45e3905.
PMCID: PMC3875687
16.  Systemic Steroid Exposure Is Associated with Differential Methylation in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Rationale: Systemic glucocorticoids are used therapeutically to treat a variety of medical conditions. Epigenetic processes such as DNA methylation may reflect exposure to glucocorticoids and may be involved in mediating the responses and side effects associated with these medications.
Objectives: To test the hypothesis that differences in DNA methylation are associated with current systemic steroid use.
Methods: We obtained DNA methylation data at 27,578 CpG sites in 14,475 genes throughout the genome in two large, independent cohorts: the International COPD Genetics Network (ndiscovery = 1,085) and the Boston Early Onset COPD study (nreplication = 369). Sites were tested for association with current systemic steroid use using generalized linear mixed models.
Measurements and Main Results: A total of 511 sites demonstrated significant differential methylation by systemic corticosteroid use in all three of our primary models. Pyrosequencing validation confirmed robust differential methylation at CpG sites annotated to genes such as SLC22A18, LRP3, HIPK3, SCNN1A, FXYD1, IRF7, AZU1, SIT1, GPR97, ABHD16B, and RABGEF1. Functional annotation clustering demonstrated significant enrichment in intrinsic membrane components, hemostasis and coagulation, cellular ion homeostasis, leukocyte and lymphocyte activation and chemotaxis, protein transport, and responses to nutrients.
Conclusions: Our analyses suggest that systemic steroid use is associated with site-specific differential methylation throughout the genome. Differentially methylated CpG sites were found in biologically plausible and previously unsuspected pathways; these genes and pathways may be relevant in the development of novel targeted therapies.
PMCID: PMC3622442  PMID: 23065012
DNA methylation; glucocorticoids; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
17.  A Fluorescence-Based Thermal Shift Assay Identifies Inhibitors of Mitogen Activated Protein Kinase Kinase 4 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e81504.
Prostate cancer (PCa) is the second highest cause of cancer death in United States males. If the metastatic movement of PCa cells could be inhibited, then mortality from PCa could be greatly reduced. Mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 4 (MAP2K4) has previously been shown to activate pro-invasion signaling pathways in human PCa. Recognizing that MAP2K4 represents a novel and validated therapeutic target, we sought to develop and characterize an efficient process for the identification of small molecules that target MAP2K4. Using a fluorescence-based thermal shift assay (FTS) assay, we first evaluated an 80 compound library of known kinase inhibitors, thereby identifying 8 hits that thermally stabilized MAP2K4 in a concentration dependent manner. We then developed an in vitro MAP2K4 kinase assay employing the biologically relevant downstream substrates, JNK1 and p38 MAPK, to evaluate kinase inhibitory function. In this manner, we validated the performance of our initial FTS screen. We next applied this approach to a 2000 compound chemically diverse library, identified 7 hits, and confirmed them in the in vitro kinase assay. Finally, by coupling our structure-activity relationship data to MAP2K4's crystal structure, we constructed a model for ligand binding. It predicts binding of our identified inhibitory compounds to the ATP binding pocket. Herein we report the creation of a robust inhibitor-screening platform with the ability to inform the discovery and design of new and potent MAP2K4 inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3855329  PMID: 24339940
18.  The crystal structures of the α-subunit of the α2β2 tetrameric Glycyl-tRNA synthetase 
Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (AARSs) are ligases (EC.6.1.1.-) that catalyze the acylation of amino acids to their cognate tRNAs in the process of translating genetic information from mRNA to protein. Their amino acid and tRNA specificity are crucial for correctly translating the genetic code. Glycine is the smallest amino acid and the glycyl-tRNA synthetase (GlyRS) belongs to Class II AARSs. The enzyme is unusual because it can assume different quaternary structures. In eukaryotes, archaebac-teria and some bacteria, it forms an α2 homodimer. In some bacteria, GlyRS is an α2β2 heterotetramer and shows a distant similarity to α2 GlyRSs. The human pathogen eubacterium Campylobacter jejuni GlyRS (CjGlyRS) is an α2β2 heterotetramer and is similar to Escherichia coli GlyRS; both are members of Class IIc AARSs. The two-step aminoacylation reaction of tetrameric GlyRSs requires the involvement of both α- and β-subunits. At present, the structure of the GlyRS α2β2 class and the details of the enzymatic mechanism of this enzyme remain unknown. Here we report the crystal structures of the catalytic α-subunit of CjGlyRS and its complexes with ATP, and ATP and glycine. These structures provide detailed information on substrate binding and show evidence for a proposed mechanism for amino acid activation and the formation of the glycyl-adenylate intermediate for Class II AARSs.
PMCID: PMC3691008  PMID: 23054484
Gly-tRNA synthetase; Catalytic subunit; ATP binding; Glycine binding
19.  Bacillus anthracis Inosine 5′-Monophosphate Dehydrogenase in Action: The First Bacterial Series of Structures of Phosphate Ion-, Substrate-, and Product-Bound Complexes 
Biochemistry  2012;51(31):10.1021/bi300511w.
Inosine 5′-monophosphate dehydrogenase (IMPDH) catalyzes the first unique step of the GMP branch of the purine nucleotide biosynthetic pathway. This enzyme is found in organisms of all three kingdoms. IMPDH inhibitors have broad clinical applications in cancer treatment, as antiviral drugs and as immunosuppressants, and have also displayed antibiotic activity. We have determined three crystal structures of Bacillus anthracis IMPDH, in a phosphate ion-bound (termed “apo”) form and in complex with its substrate, inosine 5′-monophosphate (IMP), and product, xanthosine 5′-monophosphate (XMP). This is the first example of a bacterial IMPDH in more than one state from the same organism. Furthermore, for the first time for a prokaryotic enzyme, the entire active site flap, containing the conserved Arg-Tyr dyad, is clearly visible in the structure of the apoenzyme. Kinetic parameters for the enzymatic reaction were also determined, and the inhibitory effect of XMP and mycophenolic acid (MPA) has been studied. In addition, the inhibitory potential of two known Cryptosporidium parvum IMPDH inhibitors was examined for the B. anthracis enzyme and compared with those of three bacterial IMPDHs from Campylobacter jejuni, Clostridium perfringens, and Vibrio cholerae. The structures contribute to the characterization of the active site and design of inhibitors that specifically target B. anthracis and other microbial IMPDH enzymes.
PMCID: PMC3836674  PMID: 22788966
20.  LigSearch: a knowledge-based web server to identify likely ligands for a protein target 
LigSearch is a web server for identifying ligands likely to bind to a given protein. It can be accessed at
Identifying which ligands might bind to a protein before crystallization trials could provide a significant saving in time and resources. LigSearch, a web server aimed at predicting ligands that might bind to and stabilize a given protein, has been developed. Using a protein sequence and/or structure, the system searches against a variety of databases, combining available knowledge, and provides a clustered and ranked output of possible ligands. LigSearch can be accessed at
PMCID: PMC3852652  PMID: 24311580
LigSearch; ligand prediction
21.  Nitric oxide synthase polymorphisms, gene expression and lung function in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Due to the pleiotropic effects of nitric oxide (NO) within the lungs, it is likely that NO is a significant factor in the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The aim of this study was to test for association between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in three NO synthase (NOS) genes and lung function, as well as to examine gene expression and protein levels in relation to the genetic variation.
One SNP in each NOS gene (neuronal NOS (NOS1), inducible NOS (NOS2), and endothelial NOS (NOS3)) was genotyped in the Lung Health Study (LHS) and correlated with lung function. One SNP (rs1800779) was also analyzed for association with COPD and lung function in four COPD case–control populations. Lung tissue expression of NOS3 mRNA and protein was tested in individuals of known genotype for rs1800779. Immunohistochemistry of lung tissue was used to localize NOS3 expression.
For the NOS3 rs1800779 SNP, the baseline forced expiratory volume in one second in the LHS was significantly higher in the combined AG + GG genotypic groups compared with the AA genotypic group. Gene expression and protein levels in lung tissue were significantly lower in subjects with the AG + GG genotypes than in AA subjects. NOS3 protein was expressed in the airway epithelium and subjects with the AA genotype demonstrated higher NOS3 expression compared with AG and GG individuals. However, we were not able to replicate the associations with COPD or lung function in the other COPD study groups.
Variants in the NOS genes were not associated with lung function or COPD status. However, the G allele of rs1800779 resulted in a decrease of NOS3 gene expression and protein levels and this has implications for the numerous disease states that have been associated with this polymorphism.
PMCID: PMC3827989  PMID: 24192154
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Nitric oxide synthase; Polymorphism; Gene expression
22.  Characterization of Fibrinogen Binding by Glycoproteins Srr1 and Srr2 of Streptococcus agalactiae* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2013;288(50):35982-35996.
Background: The serine-rich repeat glycoproteins Srr1 and Srr2 are surface adhesins of Streptococcus agalactiae important for pathogenicity.
Results: Both Srrs bind tandem repeats of the fibrinogen Aα chain, but Srr2 has greater affinity explained by structure-function analysis of the Srrs.
Conclusion: A dock, lock, and latch mechanism describes the Srr-fibrinogen interaction.
Significance: The higher affinity of Srr2 may contribute to the hypervirulence of Srr2-expressing strains.
The serine-rich repeat glycoproteins of Gram-positive bacteria comprise a large family of cell wall proteins. Streptococcus agalactiae (group B streptococcus, GBS) expresses either Srr1 or Srr2 on its surface, depending on the strain. Srr1 has recently been shown to bind fibrinogen, and this interaction contributes to the pathogenesis of GBS meningitis. Although strains expressing Srr2 appear to be hypervirulent, no ligand for this adhesin has been described. We now demonstrate that Srr2 also binds human fibrinogen and that this interaction promotes GBS attachment to endothelial cells. Recombinant Srr1 and Srr2 bound fibrinogen in vitro, with affinities of KD = 2.1 × 10−5 and 3.7 × 10−6 m, respectively, as measured by surface plasmon resonance spectroscopy. The binding site for Srr1 and Srr2 was localized to tandem repeats 6–8 of the fibrinogen Aα chain. The structures of both the Srr1 and Srr2 binding regions were determined and, in combination with mutagenesis studies, suggest that both Srr1 and Srr2 interact with a segment of these repeats via a “dock, lock, and latch” mechanism. Moreover, properties of the latch region may account for the increased affinity between Srr2 and fibrinogen. Together, these studies identify how greater affinity of Srr2 for fibrinogen may contribute to the increased virulence associated with Srr2-expressing strains.
PMCID: PMC3861647  PMID: 24165132
Bacterial Adhesion; Bacterial Pathogenesis; Fibrinogen; Protein Crystallization; Streptococcus; Streptococcus agalactiae; Prot
23.  Structural and functional characterization of microcin C resistance peptidase MccF from Bacillus anthracis 
Journal of molecular biology  2012;420(0):366-383.
Microcin C (McC) is heptapeptide-adenylate antibiotic produced by Escherichia coli strains carrying the mccABCDEF gene cluster encoding enzymes, in addition to the heptapeptide structural gene mccA, necessary for McC biosynthesis and self-immunity of the producing cell. The heptapeptide facilitates McC transport into susceptible cells, where it is processed releasing a non-hydrolyzable aminoacyl adenylate that inhibits an essential aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase. The self-immunity gene mccF encodes a specialized serine-peptidase that cleaves an amide bond connecting the peptidyl or aminoacyl moieties of, respectively, intact and processed McC with the nucleotidyl moiety. Most mccF orthologs from organisms other than E. coli are not linked to the McC biosynthesis gene cluster. Here, we show that a protein product of one such gene, MccF from Bacillus anthracis (BaMccF), is able to cleave intact and processed McC and we present a series of structures of this protein. Structural analysis of apo-BaMccF and its AMP-complex reveal specific features of MccF-like peptidases that allow them to interact with substrates containing nucleotidyl moieties. Sequence analyses and phylogenetic reconstructions suggest that several distinct subfamilies form the MccF clade of the large S66 family of bacterial serine peptidases. We show that various representatives of the MccF clade can specifically detoxify non-hydrolyzable aminoacyl adenylates differing in their aminoacyl moieties. We hypothesize that bacterial mccF genes serve as a source of bacterial antibiotic resistance.
PMCID: PMC3690760  PMID: 22516613
MccF; serine peptidase; nucleophilic elbow; catalytic triad (Ser-His-Glu); substrate binding loop
24.  Cigarette smoking behaviors and time since quitting are associated with differential DNA methylation across the human genome 
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;21(13):3073-3082.
The impact of cigarette smoking can persist for extended periods following smoking cessation and may involve epigenetic reprogramming. Changes in DNA methylation associated with smoking may help to identify molecular pathways that contribute to the latency between exposure and disease onset. Cross-sectional cohort data from subjects in the International COPD Genetics Network (n = 1085) and the Boston Early-Onset COPD study (n = 369) were analyzed as the discovery and replication cohorts, respectively. Genome-wide methylation data on 27 578 CpG sites in 14 475 genes were obtained on DNA from peripheral blood leukocytes using the Illumina HumanMethylation27K Beadchip in both cohorts. We identified 15 sites significantly associated with current smoking, 2 sites associated with cumulative smoke exposure, and, within the subset of former smokers, 3 sites associated with time since quitting cigarettes. Two loci, factor II receptor-like 3 (F2RL3) and G-protein-coupled receptor 15 (GPR15), were significantly associated in all three analyses and were validated by pyrosequencing. These findings (i) identify a novel locus (GPR15) associated with cigarette smoking and (ii) suggest the existence of dynamic, site-specific methylation changes in response to smoking which may contribute to the extended risks associated with cigarette smoking that persist after cessation.
PMCID: PMC3373248  PMID: 22492999
25.  Development of Novel In Vivo Chemical Probes to Address CNS Protein Kinase Involvement in Synaptic Dysfunction 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66226.
Serine-threonine protein kinases are critical to CNS function, yet there is a dearth of highly selective, CNS-active kinase inhibitors for in vivo investigations. Further, prevailing assumptions raise concerns about whether single kinase inhibitors can show in vivo efficacy for CNS pathologies, and debates over viable approaches to the development of safe and efficacious kinase inhibitors are unsettled. It is critical, therefore, that these scientific challenges be addressed in order to test hypotheses about protein kinases in neuropathology progression and the potential for in vivo modulation of their catalytic activity. Identification of molecular targets whose in vivo modulation can attenuate synaptic dysfunction would provide a foundation for future disease-modifying therapeutic development as well as insight into cellular mechanisms. Clinical and preclinical studies suggest a critical link between synaptic dysfunction in neurodegenerative disorders and the activation of p38αMAPK mediated signaling cascades. Activation in both neurons and glia also offers the unusual potential to generate enhanced responses through targeting a single kinase in two distinct cell types involved in pathology progression. However, target validation has been limited by lack of highly selective inhibitors amenable to in vivo use in the CNS. Therefore, we employed high-resolution co-crystallography and pharmacoinformatics to design and develop a novel synthetic, active site targeted, CNS-active, p38αMAPK inhibitor (MW108). Selectivity was demonstrated by large-scale kinome screens, functional GPCR agonist and antagonist analyses of off-target potential, and evaluation of cellular target engagement. In vitro and in vivo assays demonstrated that MW108 ameliorates beta-amyloid induced synaptic and cognitive dysfunction. A serendipitous discovery during co-crystallographic analyses revised prevailing models about active site targeting of inhibitors, providing insights that will facilitate future kinase inhibitor design. Overall, our studies deliver highly selective in vivo probes appropriate for CNS investigations and demonstrate that modulation of p38αMAPK activity can attenuate synaptic dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC3694096  PMID: 23840427

Results 1-25 (57)