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1.  A novel polyamine allosteric site of SpeG from Vibrio cholerae is revealed by its dodecameric structure 
Journal of molecular biology  2015;427(6 0 0):1316-1334.
Spermidine N-acetyltransferase, encoded by the gene speG, catalyzes the initial step in the degradation of polyamines and is a critical enzyme for determining the polyamine concentrations in bacteria. In Escherichia coli, studies have shown that SpeG is the enzyme responsible for acetylating spermidine under stress conditions and for preventing spermidine toxicity. Not all bacteria contain speG, and many bacterial pathogens have developed strategies to either acquire or silence it for pathogenesis. Here, we present thorough kinetic analyses combined with structural characterization of the VCA0947 SpeG enzyme from the important human pathogen Vibrio cholerae. Our studies revealed the unexpected presence of a previously unknown allosteric site and an unusual dodecameric structure for a member of the Gcn5-related N-acetyltransferase (GNAT) superfamily. We show that SpeG forms dodecamers in solution and in crystals and describe its three-dimensional structure in several ligand-free and liganded structures. Importantly, these structural data define the first view of a polyamine bound in an allosteric site of an N-acetyltransferase. Kinetic characterization of SpeG from V. cholerae showed that it acetylates spermidine and spermine. The behavior of this enzyme is complex and exhibits sigmoidal curves and substrate inhibition. We performed a detailed non-linear regression kinetic analysis to simultaneously fit families of substrate saturation curves to uncover a simple kinetic mechanism that explains the apparent complexity of this enzyme. Our results provide a fundamental understanding of the bacterial SpeG enzyme, which will be key towards understanding the regulation of polyamine levels in bacteria during pathogenesis.
doi:10.1016/j.jmb.2015.01.009
PMCID: PMC4355314  PMID: 25623305
spermidine/spermine; dodecamer; allosteric enzyme; GNAT; acetyltransferase
2.  Structural Genomics Support for Infectious Disease Drug Design 
ACS Infectious Diseases  2015;1(3):127-129.
doi:10.1021/id500048p
PMCID: PMC4426352  PMID: 25984568
3.  Small angle X-ray scattering data and structure factor fitting for the study of the quaternary structure of the spermidine N-acetyltransferase SpeG 
Data in Brief  2015;6:47-52.
Here we describe the treatment of the small-angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS) data used during SpeG quaternary structure study as part of the research article “Substrate induced allosteric change in the quaternary structure of the spermidine N-acetyltransferase SpeG” published in Journal of Molecular Biology [1]. These data were collected on two separate area detectors as separate dilution series of the SpeG and the SpeG with spermine samples along with data from their companion buffers. The data were radially integrated, corrected for incident beam variation, and scaled to absolute units. After subtraction of volume-fraction scaled buffer scattering and division by the SpeG concentration, multiple scattering curves free of an inter-molecular structure factor were derived from the dilution series. Rather than extrapolating to infinite dilution, the structure factor contribution was estimated by fitting to the full set of data provided by dividing the scattering curves of a dilution series by the curve from the most dilute sample in that series.
doi:10.1016/j.dib.2015.11.044
PMCID: PMC4688414  PMID: 26793756
5.  Crystal structures of putative phosphoglycerate kinases from B. anthracis> and C. jejuni 
Phosphoglycerate kinase (PGK) is indispensable during glycolysis for anaerobic glucose degradation and energy generation. Here we present comprehensive structure analysis of two putative PGKs from Bacillus anthracis str. Sterne and Campylobacter jejuni in the context of their structural homologs. They are the first PGKs from pathogenic bacteria reported in the Protein Data Bank. The crystal structure of PGK from Bacillus anthracis str. Sterne (BaPGK) has been determined at 1.68 Å while the structure of PGK from Campylobacter jejuni (CjPGK) has been determined at 2.14 A resolution. The proteins’ monomers are composed of two domains, each containing a Rossmann fold, hinged together by a helix which can be used to adjust the relative position between two domains. It is also shown that apo-forms, of both BaPGK and CjPGK adopt open conformations as compared to the substrate and ATP bound forms of PGK from other species.
doi:10.1007/s10969-012-9131-9
PMCID: PMC4485498  PMID: 22403005
Carbohydrate degradation; Glycolysis; PGK; Phosphoglycerate kinase; Pathogenic organism; Anthrax; Gastroenteritis; Guillain-Barré syndrome; Rossmann fold; Bacillus anthracis; Campylobacter jejuni
6.  Potential for Reduction of Streptogramin A Resistance Revealed by Structural Analysis of Acetyltransferase VatA 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2014;58(12):7083-7092.
Combinations of group A and B streptogramins (i.e., dalfopristin and quinupristin) are “last-resort” antibiotics for the treatment of infections caused by Gram-positive pathogens, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium. Resistance to streptogramins has arisen via multiple mechanisms, including the deactivation of the group A component by the large family of virginiamycin O-acetyltransferase (Vat) enzymes. Despite the structural elucidation performed for the VatD acetyltransferase, which provided a general molecular framework for activity, a detailed characterization of the essential catalytic and antibiotic substrate-binding determinants in Vat enzymes is still lacking. We have determined the crystal structure of S. aureus VatA in apo, virginiamycin M1- and acetyl-coenzyme A (CoA)-bound forms and provide an extensive mutagenesis and functional analysis of the structural determinants required for catalysis and streptogramin A recognition. Based on an updated genomic survey across the Vat enzyme family, we identified key conserved residues critical for VatA activity that are not part of the O-acetylation catalytic apparatus. Exploiting such constraints of the Vat active site may lead to the development of streptogramin A compounds that evade inactivation by Vat enzymes while retaining binding to their ribosomal target.
doi:10.1128/AAC.03743-14
PMCID: PMC4249515  PMID: 25223995
7.  Targeting Human Central Nervous System Protein Kinases: An Isoform Selective p38αMAPK Inhibitor That Attenuates Disease Progression in Alzheimer’s Disease Mouse Models 
ACS Chemical Neuroscience  2015;6(4):666-680.
The first kinase inhibitor drug approval in 2001 initiated a remarkable decade of tyrosine kinase inhibitor drugs for oncology indications, but a void exists for serine/threonine protein kinase inhibitor drugs and central nervous system indications. Stress kinases are of special interest in neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders due to their involvement in synaptic dysfunction and complex disease susceptibility. Clinical and preclinical evidence implicates the stress related kinase p38αMAPK as a potential neurotherapeutic target, but isoform selective p38αMAPK inhibitor candidates are lacking and the mixed kinase inhibitor drugs that are promising in peripheral tissue disease indications have limitations for neurologic indications. Therefore, pursuit of the neurotherapeutic hypothesis requires kinase isoform selective inhibitors with appropriate neuropharmacology features. Synaptic dysfunction disorders offer a potential for enhanced pharmacological efficacy due to stress-induced activation of p38αMAPK in both neurons and glia, the interacting cellular components of the synaptic pathophysiological axis, to be modulated. We report a novel isoform selective p38αMAPK inhibitor, MW01-18-150SRM (=MW150), that is efficacious in suppression of hippocampal-dependent associative and spatial memory deficits in two distinct synaptic dysfunction mouse models. A synthetic scheme for biocompatible product and positive outcomes from pharmacological screens are presented. The high-resolution crystallographic structure of the p38αMAPK/MW150 complex documents active site binding, reveals a potential low energy conformation of the bound inhibitor, and suggests a structural explanation for MW150’s exquisite target selectivity. As far as we are aware, MW150 is without precedent as an isoform selective p38MAPK inhibitor or as a kinase inhibitor capable of modulating in vivo stress related behavior.
doi:10.1021/acschemneuro.5b00002
PMCID: PMC4404319  PMID: 25676389
Signal transduction; cognitive dysfunction; protein kinase; crystallography; chemical synthesis; pharmacology
8.  Structural and functional analysis of betaine aldehyde dehydrogenase from Staphylococcus aureus  
The purified putative betaine aldehyde dehydrogenase SACOL2628 from the early methicillin-resistant S. aureus COL has betaine aldehyde dehydrogenase activity and is structurally similar to aldehyde dehydrogenases.
When exposed to high osmolarity, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) restores its growth and establishes a new steady state by accumulating the osmoprotectant metabolite betaine. Effective osmoregulation has also been implicated in the acquirement of a profound antibiotic resistance by MRSA. Betaine can be obtained from the bacterial habitat or produced intracellularly from choline via the toxic betaine aldehyde (BA) employing the choline dehydrogenase and betaine aldehyde dehydrogenase (BADH) enzymes. Here, it is shown that the putative betaine aldehyde dehydrogenase SACOL2628 from the early MRSA isolate COL (SaBADH) utilizes betaine aldehyde as the primary substrate and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) as the cofactor. Surface plasmon resonance experiments revealed that the affinity of NAD+, NADH and BA for SaBADH is affected by temperature, pH and buffer composition. Five crystal structures of the wild type and three structures of the Gly234Ser mutant of SaBADH in the apo and holo forms provide details of the molecular mechanisms of activity and substrate specificity/inhibition of this enzyme.
doi:10.1107/S1399004715004228
PMCID: PMC4427200  PMID: 25945581
betaine aldehyde dehydrogenase; Staphylococcus aureus; structural genomics; high-throughput approach; infectious diseases
9.  Targeting human central nervous system protein kinases: an isoform selective p38αMAPK inhibitor that attenuates disease progression in Alzheimer’s Disease mouse models 
ACS chemical neuroscience  2015;6(4):666-680.
The first kinase inhibitor drug approval in 2001 initiated a remarkable decade of tyrosine kinase inhibitor drugs for oncology indications, but a void exists for serine/threonine protein kinase inhibitor drugs and central nervous system indications. Stress kinases are of special interest in neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders due to their involvement in synaptic dysfunction and complex disease susceptibility. Clinical and preclinical evidence implicates the stress related kinase p38αMAPK as a potential neurotherapeutic target, but isoform selective p38αMAPK inhibitor candidates are lacking and the mixed kinase inhibitor drugs that are promising in peripheral tissue disease indications have limitations for neurologic indications. Therefore, pursuit of the neurotherapeutic hypothesis requires kinase isoform selective inhibitors with appropriate neuropharmacology features. Synaptic dysfunction disorders offer a potential for enhanced pharmacological efficacy due to stress-induced activation of p38αMAPK in both neurons and glia, the interacting cellular components of the synaptic pathophysiological axis to be modulated. We report a novel isoform selective p38αMAPK inhibitor, MW01-18-150SRM (= MW150), that is efficacious in suppression of hippocampal-dependent associative and spatial memory deficits in two distinct synaptic dysfunction mouse models. A synthetic scheme for biocompatible product and positive outcomes from pharmacological screens are presented. The high-resolution crystallographic structure of the p38αMAPK:MW150 complex documents active site binding, reveals a potential low energy conformation of the bound inhibitor, and suggests a structural explanation for MW150’s exquisite target selectivity. As far as we are aware, MW150 is without precedent as an isoform selective p38MAPK inhibitor or as a kinase inhibitor capable of modulating in vivo stress related behavior.
doi:10.1021/acschemneuro.5b00002
PMCID: PMC4404319  PMID: 25676389
signal transduction; cognitive dysfunction; protein kinase; crystallography; chemical synthesis; pharmacology
10.  The structure of bradyzoite-specific enolase from Toxoplasma gondii reveals insights into its dual cytoplasmic and nuclear functions 
The second crystal structure of a parasite protein preferentially enriched in the brain cyst of T. gondii has been solved at 2.75 Å resolution. Bradyzoite enolase 1 is reported to have differential functions as a glycolytic enzyme and a transcriptional regulator in bradyzoites.
In addition to catalyzing a central step in glycolysis, enolase assumes a remarkably diverse set of secondary functions in different organisms, including transcription regulation as documented for the oncogene c-Myc promoter-binding protein 1. The apicomplexan parasite Toxoplasma gondii differentially expresses two nuclear-localized, plant-like enolases: enolase 1 (TgENO1) in the latent bradyzoite cyst stage and enolase 2 (TgENO2) in the rapidly replicative tachyzoite stage. A 2.75 Å resolution crystal structure of bradyzoite enolase 1, the second structure to be reported of a bradyzoite-specific protein in Toxoplasma, captures an open conformational state and reveals that distinctive plant-like insertions are located on surface loops. The enolase 1 structure reveals that a unique residue, Glu164, in catalytic loop 2 may account for the lower activity of this cyst-stage isozyme. Recombinant TgENO1 specifically binds to a TTTTCT DNA motif present in the cyst matrix antigen 1 (TgMAG1) gene promoter as demonstrated by gel retardation. Furthermore, direct physical interactions of both nuclear TgENO1 and TgENO2 with the TgMAG1 gene promoter are demonstrated in vivo using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays. Structural and biochemical studies reveal that T. gondii enolase functions are multifaceted, including the coordination of gene regulation in parasitic stage development. Enolase 1 provides a potential lead in the design of drugs against Toxoplasma brain cysts.
doi:10.1107/S1399004714026479
PMCID: PMC4356359  PMID: 25760592
moonlighting protein; brain parasite; central nervous system; chronic infection; differentiation
11.  The E. coli sirtuin CobB shows no preference for enzymatic and nonenzymatic lysine acetylation substrate sites 
MicrobiologyOpen  2014;4(1):66-83.
Nε-lysine acetylation is an abundant posttranslational modification of thousands of proteins involved in diverse cellular processes. In the model bacterium Escherichia coli, the ε-amino group of a lysine residue can be acetylated either catalytically by acetyl-coenzyme A (acCoA) and lysine acetyltransferases, or nonenzymatically by acetyl phosphate (acP). It is well known that catalytic acCoA-dependent Nε-lysine acetylation can be reversed by deacetylases. Here, we provide genetic, mass spectrometric, structural and immunological evidence that CobB, a deacetylase of the sirtuin family of NAD+-dependent deacetylases, can reverse acetylation regardless of acetyl donor or acetylation mechanism. We analyzed 69 lysines on 51 proteins that we had previously detected as robustly, reproducibly, and significantly more acetylated in a cobB mutant than in its wild-type parent. Functional and pathway enrichment analyses supported the hypothesis that CobB regulates protein function in diverse and often essential cellular processes, most notably translation. Combined mass spectrometry, bioinformatics, and protein structural data provided evidence that the accessibility and three-dimensional microenvironment of the target acetyllysine help determine CobB specificity. Finally, we provide evidence that CobB is the predominate deacetylase in E. coli.
doi:10.1002/mbo3.223
PMCID: PMC4335977  PMID: 25417765
Acetyl phosphate; bacteria; crystallography; deacetylase; mass spectrometry; posttranslational modification
12.  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.
doi:10.1021/bi4015506
PMCID: PMC3985847  PMID: 24437575
13.  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.
doi:10.1128/AEM.00215-14
PMCID: PMC4054205  PMID: 24747910
14.  Structure of the LdcB LD-Carboxypeptidase Reveals the Molecular Basis of Peptidoglycan Recognition 
Structure(London, England:1993)  2014;22(7):949-960.
Summary
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.
Highlights
•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.
doi:10.1016/j.str.2014.04.015
PMCID: PMC4087270  PMID: 24909784
15.  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.
doi:10.1038/ja.2013.105
PMCID: PMC3946878  PMID: 24169798
DXP synthase; isoprenoid biosynthesis; selective inhibitor; thiamin diphosphate
16.  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.
doi:10.1007/978-1-4939-0354-2_19
PMCID: PMC4073479  PMID: 24590723
Protein; Ligand; High-throughput screening; Docking; Molecular modeling
17.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0094816
PMCID: PMC3995681  PMID: 24756028
18.  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.
doi:10.1128/JB.00383-13
PMCID: PMC3754749  PMID: 23852870
19.  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.
doi:10.1007/s10969-014-9176-z
PMCID: PMC3955178  PMID: 24562475
Trimethylamine; NTF2-like superfamily; Caci_0382; X-ray crystal structure; Structural genomics
20.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0089356
PMCID: PMC3931744  PMID: 24586713
21.  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.
doi:10.1007/s10969-013-9149-7
PMCID: PMC3878977  PMID: 23539270
Post-translational activation; Quaternary structure; Shikimate pathway; X-ray crystal structure; Structural genomics
22.  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.
doi:10.1371/annotation/5edeb1de-b76c-4fd9-a3f6-0f1cf45e3905
PMCID: PMC3875687
23.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0081504
PMCID: PMC3855329  PMID: 24339940
24.  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.
doi:10.1007/s10969-012-9142-6
PMCID: PMC3691008  PMID: 23054484
Gly-tRNA synthetase; Catalytic subunit; ATP binding; Glycine binding
25.  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.
doi:10.1021/bi300511w
PMCID: PMC3836674  PMID: 22788966

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