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1.  Identification and Characterization of Bifunctional Proline Racemase/Hydroxyproline Epimerase from Archaea: Discrimination of Substrates and Molecular Evolution 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0120349.
Proline racemase (ProR) is a member of the pyridoxal 5’-phosphate-independent racemase family, and is involved in the Stickland reaction (fermentation) in certain clostridia as well as the mechanisms underlying the escape of parasites from host immunity in eukaryotic Trypanosoma. Hydroxyproline epimerase (HypE), which is in the same protein family as ProR, catalyzes the first step of the trans-4-hydroxy-L-proline metabolism of bacteria. Their substrate specificities were previously considered to be very strict, in spite of similarities in their structures and catalytic mechanisms, and no racemase/epimerase from the ProR superfamily has been found in archaea. We here characterized the ProR-like protein (OCC_00372) from the hyperthermophilic archaeon, Thermococcus litoralis (TlProR). This protein could reversibly catalyze not only the racemization of proline, but also the epimerization of 4-hydroxyproline and 3-hydroxyproline with similar kinetic constants. Among the four (putative) ligand binding sites, one amino acid substitution was detected between TlProR (tryptophan at the position of 241) and natural ProR (phenylalanine). The W241F mutant showed a significant preference for proline over hydroxyproline, suggesting that this (hydrophobic and bulky) tryptophan residue played an importance role in the recognition of hydroxyproline (more hydrophilic and bulky than proline), and substrate specificity for hydroxyproline was evolutionarily acquired separately between natural HypE and ProR. A phylogenetic analysis indicated that such unique broad substrate specificity was derived from an ancestral enzyme of this superfamily.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0120349
PMCID: PMC4364671  PMID: 25786142
2.  Structure–activity relationships of substituted oxyoxalamides as inhibitors of the human soluble epoxide hydrolase 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry  2014;22(3):1163-1175.
We explored both structure–activity relationships among substituted oxyoxalamides used as the primary pharmacophore of inhibitors of the human sEH and as a secondary pharmacophore to improve water solubility of inhibitors. When the oxyoxalamide function was modified with a variety of alkyls or substituted alkyls, compound 6 with a 2-adamantyl group and a benzyl group was found to be a potent sEH inhibitor, suggesting that the substituted oxyoxalamide function is a promising primary pharmacophore for the human sEH, and compound 6 can be a novel lead structure for the development of further improved oxyoxalamide or other related derivatives. In addition, introduction of substituted oxyoxalamide to inhibitors with an amide or urea primary pharmacophore produced significant improvements in inhibition potency and water solubility. In particular, the N,N,O-trimethyloxyoxalamide group in amide or urea inhibitors (26 and 31) was most effective among those tested for both inhibition and solubility. The results indicate that substituted oxyoxalamide function incorporated into amide or urea inhibitors is a useful secondary pharmacophore, and the resulting structures will be an important basis for the development of bioavailable sEH inhibitors.
doi:10.1016/j.bmc.2013.12.027
PMCID: PMC4172381  PMID: 24433964
Substituted oxyoxalamides; Human soluble epoxide hydrolase; Inhibitors
3.  Crystal structures of Lymnaea stagnalis AChBP in complex with neonicotinoid insecticides imidacloprid and clothianidin 
Invertebrate Neuroscience   2008;8(2):71-81.
Neonicotinoid insecticides, which act on nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in a variety of ways, have extremely low mammalian toxicity, yet the molecular basis of such actions is poorly understood. To elucidate the molecular basis for nAChR–neonicotinoid interactions, a surrogate protein, acetylcholine binding protein from Lymnaea stagnalis (Ls-AChBP) was crystallized in complex with neonicotinoid insecticides imidacloprid (IMI) or clothianidin (CTD). The crystal structures suggested that the guanidine moiety of IMI and CTD stacks with Tyr185, while the nitro group of IMI but not of CTD makes a hydrogen bond with Gln55. IMI showed higher binding affinity for Ls-AChBP than that of CTD, consistent with weaker CH–π interactions in the Ls-AChBP–CTD complex than in the Ls-AChBP–IMI complex and the lack of the nitro group-Gln55 hydrogen bond in CTD. Yet, the NH at position 1 of CTD makes a hydrogen bond with the backbone carbonyl of Trp143, offering an explanation for the diverse actions of neonicotinoids on nAChRs.
doi:10.1007/s10158-008-0069-3
PMCID: PMC2413115  PMID: 18338186
Acetylcholine binding protein (Lymnaea stagnalis); Crystal structures; Neonicotinoids; Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors; Ion channels
4.  Cloning, Functional Characterization, and Mode of Action of a Novel Insecticidal Pore-Forming Toxin, Sphaericolysin, Produced by Bacillus sphaericus▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2007;73(10):3404-3411.
An insecticidal protein produced by Bacillus sphaericus A3-2 was purified to elucidate its structure and mode of action. The active principle purified from the culture broth of A3-2 was a protein with a molecular mass of 53 kDa that rapidly intoxicated German cockroaches (Blattela germanica) at a dose of about 100 ng when injected. The insecticidal protein sphaericolysin possessed the undecapeptide motif of cholesterol-dependent cytolysins and had a unique N-terminal sequence. The recombinant protein expressed in Escherichia coli was equally as potent as the native protein. Sphaericolysin-induced hemolysis resulted from the protein's pore-forming action. This activity as well as the insecticidal activity was markedly reduced by a Y159A mutation. Also, coapplication of sphaericolysin with cholesterol abolished the insecticidal action, suggesting that cholesterol binding plays an important role in insecticidal activity. Sphaericolysin-lysed neurons dissociated from the thoracic ganglia of the German cockroaches. In addition, sphaericolysin's activity in ganglia was suppressed by the Y159A mutation. The sphaericolysin-induced damage to the cockroach ganglia was greater than the damage to the ganglia of common cutworms (Spodoptera litura), which accounts, at least in part, for the higher sensitivity to sphaericolysin displayed by the cockroaches than that displayed by cutworms.
doi:10.1128/AEM.00021-07
PMCID: PMC1907092  PMID: 17400778

Results 1-4 (4)