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1.  Biophysical analysis of the putative acetyltransferase SACOL2570 from methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus 
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a major cause of a myriad of insidious and intractable infections in humans, especially in patients with compromised immune systems and children. Here, we report the apo- and CoA-bound crystal structures of a member of the galactoside acetyltransferase superfamily from methicillin-resistant S. aureus SACOL2570 which was recently shown to be down regulated in S. aureus grown in the presence of fusidic acid, an antibiotic used to treat MRSA infections. SACOL2570 forms a homotrimerin solution, as confirmed by small-angle X-ray scattering and dynamic light scattering. The protein subunit consists of an N-terminal alpha-helical domain connected to a C-terminal LβH domain. CoA binds in the active site formed by the residues from adjacent LβH domains. After determination of CoA-bound structure, molecular dynamics simulations were performed to model the binding of AcCoA. Binding of both AcCoA and CoA to SACOL2570 was verified by isothermal titration calorimetry. SACOL2570 most likely acts as an acetyltransferase, using AcCoA as an acetyl group donor and an as-yet-undetermined chemical moiety as an acceptor. SACOL2570 was recently used as a scaffold for mutations that lead the generation of cage-like assemblies, and has the potential to be used for the generation of more complex nanostructures.
PMCID: PMC3923901  PMID: 23963951
Galactoside acetyltransferases; GAT; Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) subsp. COL; Molecular dynamics; Small-angle X-ray scattering; Crystal structure
2.  Six New Tetraprenylated Alkaloids from the South China Sea Gorgonian Echinogorgia pseudossapo 
Marine Drugs  2014;12(2):672-681.
Six new tetraprenylated alkaloids, designated as malonganenones L–Q (1–6), were isolated from the gorgonian Echinogorgia pseudossapo, collected in Daya Bay of Guangdong Province, China. The structures of 1–6 featuring a methyl group at N-3 and a tetraprenyl chain at N-7 in the hypoxanthine core were established by extensive spectroscopic analyses. Compounds 1–6 were tested for their inhibitory activity against the phosphodiesterases (PDEs)-4D, 5A, and 9A, and compounds 1 and 6 exhibited moderate inhibitory activity against PDE4D with IC50 values of 8.5 and 20.3 µM, respectively.
PMCID: PMC3944508  PMID: 24473168
gorgonian; Echinogorgia pseudossapo; tetraprenylated alkaloids; phosphodiesterases
3.  Structure-based discovery of highly selective phosphodiesterase-9A inhibitors and implications for inhibitor design 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2012;55(19):8549-8558.
A new series of phosphodiesterase-9 (PDE9) inhibitors that contain a scaffold of 6-amino-pyrazolopyrimidinone have been discovered by a combination of structure-based design and computational docking. This procedure significantly saved load of chemical synthesis and is an effective method for the discovery of inhibitors. The best compound 28 has an IC50 of 21 nM and 3.3 µM respectively for PDE9 and PDE5, and about three orders of magnitude of selectivity against other PDE families. The crystal structure of the PDE9 catalytic domain in complex with 28 has been determined and shows a hydrogen bond between 28 and Tyr424. This hydrogen bond may account for the 860-fold selectivity of 28 against PDE1B, in comparison with about 30-fold selectivity of BAY73-6691. Thus, our studies suggest that Tyr424, a unique residue of PDE8 and PDE9, is a potential target for improvement of selectivity of PDE9 inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3469756  PMID: 22985069
4.  Ellagic acid, a phenolic compound, exerts anti-angiogenesis effects via VEGFR-2 signaling pathway in breast cancer 
Anti-angiogenesis targeting VEGFR-2 has been considered as an important strategy for cancer therapy. Ellagic acid is a naturally existing polyphenol widely found in fruits and vegetables. It was reported that ellagic acid interfered with some angiogenesis-dependent pathologies. Yet the mechanisms involved were not fully understood. Thus, we analyzed its anti-angiogenesis effects and mechanisms on human breast cancer utilizing in-vitro and in-vivo methodologies. The in-silico analysis was also carried out to further analyze the structure-based interaction between ellagic acid and VEGFR-2. We found that ellagic acid significantly inhibited a series of VEGF-induced angiogenesis processes including proliferation, migration, and tube formation of endothelial cells. Besides, it directly inhibited VEGFR-2 tyrosine kinase activity and its downstream signaling pathways including MAPK and PI3K/Akt in endothelial cells. Ellagic acid also obviously inhibited neo-vessel formation in chick chorioallantoic membrane and sprouts formation of chicken aorta. Breast cancer xenografts study also revealed that ellagic acid significantly inhibited MDA-MB-231 cancer growth and P-VEGFR2 expression. Molecular docking simulation indicated that ellagic acid could form hydrogen bonds and aromatic interactions within the ATP-binding region of the VEGFR-2 kinase unit. Taken together, ellagic acid could exert anti-angiogenesis effects via VEGFR-2 signaling pathway in breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3409373  PMID: 22350787
Ellagic acid; Anti-angiogenesis; VEGF/VEGFR2; Molecular docking; Breast cancer
5.  Structural Asymmetry of Phosphodiesterase-9, Potential Protonation of a Glutamic Acid, and Role of the Invariant Glutamine 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e18092.
PDE9 inhibitors show potential for treatment of diseases such as diabetes. To help with discovery of PDE9 inhibitors, we performed mutagenesis, kinetic, crystallographic, and molecular dynamics analyses on the active site residues of Gln453 and its stabilizing partner Glu406. The crystal structures of the PDE9 Q453E mutant (PDE9Q453E) in complex with inhibitors IBMX and (S)-BAY73-6691 showed asymmetric binding of the inhibitors in two subunits of the PDE9Q453E dimer and also the significant positional change of the M-loop at the active site. The kinetic analysis of the Q453E and E406A mutants suggested that the invariant glutamine is critical for binding of substrates and inhibitors, but is unlikely to play a key role in the differentiation between substrates of cGMP and cAMP. The molecular dynamics simulations suggest that residue Glu406 may be protonated and may thus explain the hydrogen bond distance between two side chain oxygens of Glu453 and Glu406 in the crystal structure of the PDE9Q453E mutant. The information from these studies may be useful for design of PDE9 inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3069055  PMID: 21483814
6.  Crystal structure and molecular modeling study of N-carbamoylsarcosine amidase Ta0454 from Thermoplasma acidophilum 
Journal of structural biology  2009;169(3):304-311.
A crystal structure of the putative N-carbamoylsarcosine amidase (CSHase) Ta0454 from Thermoplasma acidophilum was solved by single-wavelength anomalous diffraction and refined at a resolution of 2.35 Å. CSHases are involved in the degradation of creatinine. Ta0454 shares a similar fold and a highly conserved C-D-K catalytic triad (Cys123, Asp9, and Lys90) with the structures of three cysteine hydrolases (PDB codes 1NBA, 1IM5, and 2H0R). Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of Ta0454/N-carbamoylsarcosine and Ta0454/pyrazinamide complexes were performed to determine the structural basis of the substrate binding pattern for each ligand. Based on the MD simulated-trajectories, the MM/PBSA method predicts binding free energies of −24.5 and −17.1 kcal/mol for the two systems, respectively. The predicted binding free energies suggest that Ta0454 is selective for N-carbamoylsarcosine over pyrazinamide, and zinc ions play an important role in the favorable substrate bound states.
PMCID: PMC2830209  PMID: 19932181
N-carbamoylsarcosine amidase; C-D-K catalytic triad; creatinine degradation; crystal structure; MM/PBSA; molecular dynamics simulations

Results 1-6 (6)