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1.  Identification and characterization of a new true lipase isolated through metagenomic approach 
Metagenomics, the application of molecular genomics to consortia of non-cultivated microbes, has the potential to have a substantial impact on the search for novel industrial enzymes such as esterases (carboxyl ester hydrolases, EC and lipases (triacylglycerol lipases, EC In the current work, a novel lipase gene was identified from a fosmid metagenomic library constructed with the "prokaryotic-enriched" DNA from a fat-contaminated soil collected from a wastewater treatment plant.
In preliminary screening on agar containing 1% tributyrin, 2661 of the approximately 500,000 clones in the metagenomic library showed activity. Of these, 127 showed activity on agar containing 1% tricaprylin, while 32 were shown to be true lipase producers through screening on agar containing 1% triolein. The clone with the largest halo was further characterized. Its lipase gene showed 72% identity to a putative lipase of Yersinia enterocolitica subsp. palearctica Y11. The lipase, named LipC12, belongs to family I.1 of bacterial lipases, has a chaperone-independent folding, does not possess disulfide bridges and is calcium ion dependent. It is stable from pH 6 to 11 and has activity from pH 4.5 to 10, with higher activities at alkaline pH values. LipC12 is stable up to 3.7 M NaCl and from 20 to 50°C, with maximum activity at 30°C over a 1 h incubation. The pure enzyme has specific activities of 1722 U/mg and 1767 U/mg against olive oil and pig fat, respectively. Moreover, it is highly stable in organic solvents at 15% and 30% (v/v).
The combination of the use of a fat-contaminated soil, enrichment of prokaryotic DNA and a three-step screening strategy led to a high number of lipase-producing clones in the metagenomic library. The most notable properties of the new lipase that was isolated and characterized were a high specific activity against long chain triacylglycerols, activity and stability over a wide range of pH values, good thermal stability and stability in water-miscible organic solvents and at high salt concentrations. These characteristics suggest that this lipase has potential to perform well in biocatalytic processes, such as for hydrolysis and synthesis reactions involving long-chain triacylglycerols and fatty acid esters.
PMCID: PMC3161859  PMID: 21762508
2.  Structure-Based Design of Pteridine Reductase Inhibitors Targeting African Sleeping Sickness and the Leishmaniases† 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2009;53(1):221-229.
Pteridine reductase (PTR1) is a target for drug development against Trypanosoma and Leishmania species, parasites that cause serious tropical diseases and for which therapies are inadequate. We adopted a structure-based approach to the design of novel PTR1 inhibitors based on three molecular scaffolds. A series of compounds, most newly synthesized, were identified as inhibitors with PTR1-species specific properties explained by structural differences between the T. brucei and L. major enzymes. The most potent inhibitors target T. brucei PTR1, and two compounds displayed antiparasite activity against the bloodstream form of the parasite. PTR1 contributes to antifolate drug resistance by providing a molecular bypass of dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) inhibition. Therefore, combining PTR1 and DHFR inhibitors might improve therapeutic efficacy. We tested two new compounds with known DHFR inhibitors. A synergistic effect was observed for one particular combination highlighting the potential of such an approach for treatment of African sleeping sickness.
PMCID: PMC2804273  PMID: 19916554
3.  Geobacillus stearothermophilus 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase complexed with 6-phosphogluconate 
The structure of 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase from a moderate thermophile, G. stearothermophilus, is presented and compared with those of orthologous enzymes.
Two crystal structures of recombinant Geobacillus stearothermophilus 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase (Gs6PDH) in complex with the substrate 6-­phosphogluconate have been determined at medium resolution. Gs6PDH shares significant sequence identity and structural similarity with the enzymes from Lactococcus lactis, sheep liver and the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma brucei, for which a range of structures have previously been reported. Comparisons indicate that amino-acid sequence conservation is more pronounced in the two domains that contribute to the architecture of the active site, namely the N-terminal and C-terminal domains, compared with the central domain, which is primarily involved in the subunit–subunit associations required to form a stable dimer. The active-site residues are highly conserved, as are the interactions with the 6-phosphogluconate. There is interest in 6PDH as a potential drug target for the protozoan parasite T. brucei, the pathogen responsible for African sleeping sickness. The recombinant T. brucei enzyme has proven to be recalcitrant to enzyme–ligand studies and a surrogate protein might offer new opportunities to investigate and characterize 6PDH inhibitors. The high degree of structural similarity, efficient level of expression and straightforward crystallization conditions mean that Gs6PDH may prove to be an appropriate model system for structure-based inhibitor design targeting the enzyme from Trypanosoma species.
PMCID: PMC2675582  PMID: 19407374
pentose phosphate pathway; 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase; Geobacillus stearothermophilus

Results 1-3 (3)