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1.  Crystal Structures of Acetate Kinases from the Eukaryotic Pathogens Entamoeba histolytica and Cryptococcus neoformans 
Journal of structural biology  2012;181(2):185-189.
Acetate kinases (ACKs) are members of the acetate and sugar kinase/hsp70/actin (ASKHA) superfamily and catalyze the reversible phosphorylation of acetate, with ADP/ATP the most common phosphoryl acceptor/donor. While prokaryotic ACKs have been the subject of extensive biochemical and structural characterization, there is a comparative paucity of information on eukaryotic ACKs, and prior to this report, no structure of an ACK of eukaryotic origin was available. We determined the structures of ACKs from the eukaryotic pathogens Entamoeba histolytica and Cryptococcus neoformans. Each active site is located at an interdomain interface, and the acetate and phosphate binding pockets display sequence and structural conservation with their prokaryotic counterparts. Interestingly, the E. histolytica ACK has previously been shown to be pyrophosphate (PPi)-dependent, and is the first ACK demonstrated to have this property. Examination of its structure demonstrates how subtle amino acid substitutions within the active site have converted cosubstrate specificity from ATP to PPi while retaining a similar backbone conformation. Differences in the angle between domains surrounding the active site suggest that interdomain movement may accompany catalysis. Taken together, these structures are consistent with the eukaryotic ACKs following a similar reaction mechanism as is proposed for the prokaryotic homologs.
doi:10.1016/j.jsb.2012.11.001
PMCID: PMC3565045  PMID: 23159802
Acetate kinase; PPi-dependent kinase; ASKHA superfamily
2.  Novel Pyrophosphate-Forming Acetate Kinase from the Protist Entamoeba histolytica 
Eukaryotic Cell  2012;11(10):1249-1256.
Acetate kinase (ACK) catalyzes the reversible synthesis of acetyl phosphate by transfer of the γ-phosphate of ATP to acetate. Here we report the first biochemical and kinetic characterization of a eukaryotic ACK, that from the protist Entamoeba histolytica. Our characterization revealed that this protist ACK is the only known member of the ASKHA structural superfamily, which includes acetate kinase, hexokinase, and other sugar kinases, to utilize inorganic pyrophosphate (PPi)/inorganic phosphate (Pi) as the sole phosphoryl donor/acceptor. Detection of ACK activity in E. histolytica cell extracts in the direction of acetate/PPi formation but not in the direction of acetyl phosphate/Pi formation suggests that the physiological direction of the reaction is toward acetate/PPi production. Kinetic parameters determined for each direction of the reaction are consistent with this observation. The E. histolytica PPi-forming ACK follows a sequential mechanism, supporting a direct in-line phosphoryl transfer mechanism as previously reported for the well-characterized Methanosarcina thermophila ATP-dependent ACK. Characterizations of enzyme variants altered in the putative acetate/acetyl phosphate binding pocket suggested that acetyl phosphate binding is not mediated solely through a hydrophobic interaction but also through the phosphoryl group, as for the M. thermophila ACK. However, there are key differences in the roles of certain active site residues between the two enzymes. The absence of known ACK partner enzymes raises the possibility that ACK is part of a novel pathway in Entamoeba.
doi:10.1128/EC.00169-12
PMCID: PMC3485911  PMID: 22903977
3.  Role of Motif III in Catalysis by Acetyl-CoA Synthetase 
Archaea  2012;2012:509579.
The acyl-adenylate-forming enzyme superfamily, consisting of acyl- and aryl-CoA synthetases, the adenylation domain of the nonribosomal peptide synthetases, and luciferase, has three signature motifs (I–III) and ten conserved core motifs (A1–A10), some of which overlap the signature motifs. The consensus sequence for signature motif III (core motif A7) in acetyl-CoA synthetase is Y-X-S/T/A-G-D, with an invariant fifth position, highly conserved first and fourth positions, and variable second and third positions. Kinetic studies of enzyme variants revealed that an alteration at any position resulted in a strong decrease in the catalytic rate, although the most deleterious effects were observed when the first or fifth positions were changed. Structural modeling suggests that the highly conserved Tyr in the first position plays a key role in active site architecture through interaction with a highly conserved active-site Gln, and the invariant Asp in the fifth position plays a critical role in ATP binding and catalysis through interaction with the 2′- and 3′-OH groups of the ribose moiety. Interactions between these Asp and ATP are observed in all structures available for members of the superfamily, consistent with a critical role in substrate binding and catalysis for this invariant residue.
doi:10.1155/2012/509579
PMCID: PMC3438747  PMID: 22973162
4.  Complete Genome Sequence of Methanosaeta concilii, a Specialist in Aceticlastic Methanogenesis ▿ 
Journal of Bacteriology  2011;193(14):3668-3669.
The genome sequence of the aceticlastic methanoarchaeon Methanosaeta concilii GP6, comprised of a 3,008,626-bp chromosome and an 18,019-bp episome, has been determined and exhibits considerable differences in gene content from that of Methanosaeta thermophila.
doi:10.1128/JB.05031-11
PMCID: PMC3133334  PMID: 21571998
5.  Characterization of an Archaeal Medium-Chain Acyl Coenzyme A Synthetase from Methanosarcina acetivorans▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;192(22):5982-5990.
Short- and medium-chain acyl coenzyme A (acyl-CoA) synthetases catalyze the formation of acyl-CoA from an acyl substrate, ATP, and CoA. These enzymes catalyze mechanistically similar two-step reactions that proceed through an enzyme-bound acyl-AMP intermediate. Here we describe the characterization of a member of this enzyme family from the methane-producing archaeon Methanosarcina acetivorans. This enzyme, a medium-chain acyl-CoA synthetase designated MacsMa, utilizes 2-methylbutyrate as its preferred substrate for acyl-CoA synthesis but cannot utilize acetate and thus cannot catalyze the first step of acetoclastic methanogenesis in M. acetivorans. When propionate or other less favorable acyl substrates, such as butyrate, 2-methylpropionate, or 2-methylvalerate, were utilized, the acyl-CoA was not produced or was produced at reduced levels. Instead, acyl-AMP and PPi were released in the absence of CoA, whereas in the presence of CoA, the intermediate was broken down into AMP and the acyl substrate, which were released along with PPi. These results suggest that although acyl-CoA synthetases may have the ability to utilize a broad range of substrates for the acyl-adenylate-forming first step of the reaction, the intermediate may not be suitable for the thioester-forming second step. The MacsMa structure has revealed the putative acyl substrate- and CoA-binding pockets. Six residues proposed to form the acyl substrate-binding pocket, Lys256, Cys298, Gly351, Trp259, Trp237, and Trp254, were targeted for alteration. Characterization of the enzyme variants indicates that these six residues are critical in acyl substrate binding and catalysis, and even conservative alterations significantly reduced the catalytic ability of the enzyme.
doi:10.1128/JB.00600-10
PMCID: PMC2976453  PMID: 20851904
6.  The 2.1Å Crystal Structure of an Acyl-CoA Synthetase from Methanosarcina acetivorans reveals an alternate acyl binding pocket for small branched acyl substrates†,‡ 
Proteins  2009;77(3):685-698.
The acyl-AMP forming family of adenylating enzymes catalyze two-step reactions to activate a carboxylate with the chemical energy derived from ATP hydrolysis. X-ray crystal structures have been determined for multiple members of this family and, together with biochemical studies, provide insights into the active site and catalytic mechanisms used by these enzymes. These studies have shown that the enzymes use a domain rotation of 140° to reconfigure a single active site to catalyze the two partial reactions. We present here the crystal structure of a new medium chain acyl-CoA synthetase from Methanosarcina acetivorans. The binding pocket for the three substrates is analyzed, with many conserved residues present in the AMP binding pocket. The CoA binding pocket is compared to the pockets of both acetyl-CoA synthetase and 4-chlorobenzoate:CoA ligase. Most interestingly, the acyl binding pocket of the new structure is compared with other acyl- and aryl-CoA synthetases. A comparison of the acyl-binding pocket of the acyl-CoA synthetase from M. acetivorans with other structures identifies a shallow pocket that is used to bind the medium chain carboxylates. These insights emphasize the high sequence and structural diversity among this family in the area of the acyl binding pocket.
doi:10.1002/prot.22482
PMCID: PMC2767475  PMID: 19544569
Adenylate-forming enzyme; substrate specificity; X-ray crystallography
7.  AMP-forming acetyl-CoA synthetases in Archaea show unexpected diversity in substrate utilization 
Archaea  2006;2(2):95-107.
Adenosine monophosphate (AMP)-forming acetyl-CoA synthetase (ACS; acetate:CoA ligase (AMP-forming), EC 6.2.1.1) is a key enzyme for conversion of acetate to acetyl-CoA, an essential intermediate at the junction of anabolic and catabolic pathways. Phylogenetic analysis of putative short and medium chain acyl-CoA synthetase sequences indicates that the ACSs form a distinct clade from other acyl-CoA synthetases. Within this clade, the archaeal ACSs are not monophyletic and fall into three groups composed of both bacterial and archaeal sequences. Kinetic analysis of two archaeal enzymes, an ACS from Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus (designated as MT-ACS1) and an ACS from Archaeoglobus fulgidus (designated as AF-ACS2), revealed that these enzymes have very different properties. MT-ACS1 has nearly 11-fold higher affinity and 14-fold higher catalytic efficiency with acetate than with propionate, a property shared by most ACSs. However, AF-ACS2 has only 2.3-fold higher affinity and catalytic efficiency with acetate than with propionate. This enzyme has an affinity for propionate that is almost identical to that of MT-ACS1 for acetate and nearly tenfold higher than the affinity of MT-ACS1 for propionate. Furthermore, MT-ACS1 is limited to acetate and propionate as acyl substrates, whereas AF-ACS2 can also utilize longer straight and branched chain acyl substrates. Phylogenetic analysis, sequence alignment and structural modeling suggest a molecular basis for the altered substrate preference and expanded substrate range of AF-ACS2 versus MT-ACS1.
PMCID: PMC2686389  PMID: 17350930
acetate; Archaeoglobus fulgidus; Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus
9.  Characterization of the Acetate Binding Pocket in the Methanosarcina thermophila Acetate Kinase 
Journal of Bacteriology  2005;187(7):2386-2394.
Acetate kinase catalyzes the reversible magnesium-dependent synthesis of acetyl phosphate by transfer of the ATP γ-phosphoryl group to acetate. Inspection of the crystal structure of the Methanosarcina thermophila enzyme containing only ADP revealed a solvent-accessible hydrophobic pocket formed by residues Val93, Leu122, Phe179, and Pro232 in the active site cleft, which identified a potential acetate binding site. The hypothesis that this was a binding site was further supported by alignment of all acetate kinase sequences available from databases, which showed strict conservation of all four residues, and the recent crystal structure of the M. thermophila enzyme with acetate bound in this pocket. Replacement of each residue in the pocket produced variants with Km values for acetate that were 7- to 26-fold greater than that of the wild type, and perturbations of this binding pocket also altered the specificity for longer-chain carboxylic acids and acetyl phosphate. The kinetic analyses of variants combined with structural modeling indicated that the pocket has roles in binding the methyl group of acetate, influencing substrate specificity, and orienting the carboxyl group. The kinetic analyses also indicated that binding of acetyl phosphate is more dependent on interactions of the phosphate group with an unidentified residue than on interactions between the methyl group and the hydrophobic pocket. The analyses also indicated that Phe179 is essential for catalysis, possibly for domain closure. Alignments of acetate kinase, propionate kinase, and butyrate kinase sequences obtained from databases suggested that these enzymes have similar catalytic mechanisms and carboxylic acid substrate binding sites.
doi:10.1128/JB.187.7.2386-2394.2005
PMCID: PMC1065240  PMID: 15774882
10.  Roles of the Conserved Aspartate and Arginine in the Catalytic Mechanism of an Archaeal β-Class Carbonic Anhydrase 
Journal of Bacteriology  2002;184(15):4240-4245.
The roles of an aspartate and an arginine, which are completely conserved in the active sites of β-class carbonic anhydrases, were investigated by steady-state kinetic analyses of replacement variants of the β-class enzyme (Cab) from the archaeon Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum. Previous kinetic analyses of wild-type Cab indicated a two-step zinc-hydroxide mechanism of catalysis in which the kcat/Km value depends only on the rate constants for the CO2 hydration step, whereas kcat also depends on rate constants from the proton transfer step (K. S. Smith, N. J. Cosper, C. Stalhandske, R. A. Scott, and J. G. Ferry, J. Bacteriol. 182:6605-6613, 2000). The recently solved crystal structure of Cab shows the presence of a buffer molecule within hydrogen bonding distance of Asp-34, implying a role for this residue in the proton transport step (P. Strop, K. S. Smith, T. M. Iverson, J. G. Ferry, and D. C. Rees, J. Biol. Chem. 276:10299-10305, 2001). The kcat/Km values of Asp-34 variants were decreased relative to those of the wild type, although not to an extent which supports an essential role for this residue in the CO2 hydration step. Parallel decreases in kcat and kcat/Km values for the variants precluded any conclusions regarding a role for Asp-34 in the proton transfer step; however, the kcat of the D34A variant was chemically rescued by replacement of 2-(N-morpholino)propanesulfonic acid buffer with imidazole at pH 7.2, supporting a role for the conserved aspartate in the proton transfer step. The crystal structure of Cab also shows Arg-36 with two hydrogen bonds to Asp-34. Arg-36 variants had both kcat and kcat/Km values that were decreased at least 250-fold relative to those of the wild type, establishing an essential function for this residue. Imidazole was unable to rescue the kcat of the R36A variant; however, partial rescue of the kinetic parameter was obtained with guanidine-HCl indicating that the guanido group of this residue is important.
doi:10.1128/JB.184.15.4240-4245.2002
PMCID: PMC135220  PMID: 12107142
12.  Urkinase: Structure of Acetate Kinase, a Member of the ASKHA Superfamily of Phosphotransferases 
Journal of Bacteriology  2001;183(2):680-686.
Acetate kinase, an enzyme widely distributed in the Bacteria and Archaea domains, catalyzes the phosphorylation of acetate. We have determined the three-dimensional structure of Methanosarcina thermophila acetate kinase bound to ADP through crystallography. As we previously predicted, acetate kinase contains a core fold that is topologically identical to that of the ADP-binding domains of glycerol kinase, hexokinase, the 70-kDa heat shock cognate (Hsc70), and actin. Numerous charged active-site residues are conserved within acetate kinases, but few are conserved within the phosphotransferase superfamily. The identity of the points of insertion of polypeptide segments into the core fold of the superfamily members indicates that the insertions existed in the common ancestor of the phosphotransferases. Another remarkable shared feature is the unusual, epsilon conformation of the residue that directly precedes a conserved glycine residue (Gly-331 in acetate kinase) that binds the α-phosphate of ADP. Structural, biochemical, and geochemical considerations indicate that an acetate kinase may be the ancestral enzyme of the ASKHA (acetate and sugar kinases/Hsc70/actin) superfamily of phosphotransferases.
doi:10.1128/JB.183.2.680-686.2001
PMCID: PMC94925  PMID: 11133963
13.  Cloning, Sequencing, and Characterization of the cgmB Gene of Sinorhizobium meliloti Involved in Cyclic β-Glucan Biosynthesis 
Journal of Bacteriology  1999;181(15):4576-4583.
Periplasmic cyclic β-glucans of Rhizobium species provide important functions during plant infection and hypo-osmotic adaptation. In Sinorhizobium meliloti (also known as Rhizobium meliloti), these molecules are highly modified with phosphoglycerol and succinyl substituents. We have previously identified an S. meliloti Tn5 insertion mutant, S9, which is specifically impaired in its ability to transfer phosphoglycerol substituents to the cyclic β-glucan backbone (M. W. Breedveld, J. A. Hadley, and K. J. Miller, J. Bacteriol. 177:6346–6351, 1995). In the present study, we have cloned, sequenced, and characterized this mutation at the molecular level. By using the Tn5 flanking sequences (amplified by inverse PCR) as a probe, an S. meliloti genomic library was screened, and two overlapping cosmid clones which functionally complement S9 were isolated. A 3.1-kb HindIII-EcoRI fragment found in both cosmids was shown to fully complement mutant S9. Furthermore, when a plasmid containing this 3.1-kb fragment was used to transform Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. trifolii TA-1JH, a strain which normally synthesizes only neutral cyclic β-glucans, anionic glucans containing phosphoglycerol substituents were produced, consistent with the functional expression of an S. meliloti phosphoglycerol transferase gene. Sequence analysis revealed the presence of two major, overlapping open reading frames within the 3.1-kb fragment. Primer extension analysis revealed that one of these open reading frames, ORF1, was transcribed and its transcription was osmotically regulated. This novel locus of S. meliloti is designated the cgm (cyclic glucan modification) locus, and the product encoded by ORF1 is referred to as CgmB.
PMCID: PMC103589  PMID: 10419956
15.  Effects of Ionic and Osmotic Strength on the Glucosyltransferase of Rhizobium meliloti Responsible for Cyclic β-(1,2)-Glucan Biosynthesis 
The cyclic β-(1,2)-glucans of Rhizobium meliloti and Agrobacterium tumefaciens play an important role during hypoosmotic adaptation, and the synthesis of these compounds is osmoregulated. Glucosyltransferase, the enzyme responsible for cyclic β-(1,2)-glucan biosynthesis, is present constitutively, suggesting that osmotic regulation of the biosynthesis of these glucans occurs through modulation of enzyme activity. In this study, we examined regulation of cyclic glucan biosynthesis in vitro with membrane preparations from R. meliloti. The results show that ionic solutes inhibit glucan synthesis, even when they are present at low concentrations (e.g., 10 mM). In contrast, neutral solutes (glucose, sucrose, and the compatible solutes glycine betaine and trehalose) were found to stimulate glucan synthesis in vitro when they were present at high concentrations (e.g., 1 M). Furthermore, high concentrations of these neutral solutes were shown to compensate for the inhibition of glucosyltransferase activity by ionic solutes. Consistent with their ionic character, the compatible solute potassium glutamate and the osmoprotectant choline chloride inhibited glucosyltransferase activity in vitro. The results suggest that intracellular ion concentrations, intracellular osmolarity, and intracellular concentrations of nonionic compatible solutes all act as important determinants of glucosyltransferase activity in vivo. Additional experiments were performed with an ndvA mutant defective for transport of cyclic glucans and an ndvB mutant that produces a C-terminal truncated glucosyltransferase. Cyclic β-(1,2)-glucan biosynthesis, although reduced, was found to be osmoregulated in both mutants. These results reveal that NdvA and the C terminus of NdvB are not required for osmotic regulation of cyclic β-(1,2)-glucan biosynthesis.
PMCID: PMC106143  PMID: 16349538
16.  Identification of Essential Glutamates in the Acetate Kinase from Methanosarcina thermophila 
Journal of Bacteriology  1998;180(5):1129-1134.
Acetate kinase catalyzes the reversible phosphorylation of acetate (CH3COO− + ATP⇄CH3CO2PO32− + ADP). A mechanism which involves a covalent phosphoryl-enzyme intermediate has been proposed, and chemical modification studies of the enzyme from Escherichia coli indicate an unspecified glutamate residue is phosphorylated (J. A. Todhunter and D. L. Purich, Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 60:273–280, 1974). Alignment of the amino acid sequences for the acetate kinases from E. coli (Bacteria domain), Methanosarcina thermophila (Archaea domain), and four other phylogenetically divergent microbes revealed high identity which included five glutamates. These glutamates were replaced in the M. thermophila enzyme to determine if any are essential for catalysis. The histidine-tagged altered enzymes were produced in E. coli and purified to electrophoretic homogeneity by metal affinity chromatography. Replacements of E384 resulted in either undetectable or extremely low kinase activity, suggesting E384 is essential for catalysis which supports the proposed mechanism. Replacement of E385 influenced the Km values for acetate and ATP with only moderate decreases in kcat, which suggests that this residue is involved in substrate binding but not catalysis. The unaltered acetate kinase was not inactivated by N-ethylmaleimide; however, replacement of E385 with cysteine conferred sensitivity to N-ethylmaleimide which was prevented by preincubation with acetate, acetyl phosphate, ATP, or ADP, suggesting that E385 is located near the active site. Replacement of E97 decreased the Km value for acetate but not ATP, suggesting this residue is involved in binding acetate. Replacement of either E32 or E334 had no significant effects on the kinetic constants, which indicates that neither residue is essential for catalysis or significantly influences the binding of acetate or ATP.
PMCID: PMC106999  PMID: 9495750

Results 1-16 (16)