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1.  Structure of the LdcB LD-Carboxypeptidase Reveals the Molecular Basis of Peptidoglycan Recognition 
Structure(London, England:1993)  2014;22(7):949-960.
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.
•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.
PMCID: PMC4087270  PMID: 24909784
2.  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.
PMCID: PMC3995681  PMID: 24756028
3.  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.
PMCID: PMC3955178  PMID: 24562475
Trimethylamine; NTF2-like superfamily; Caci_0382; X-ray crystal structure; Structural genomics
4.  Characterization of Fibrinogen Binding by Glycoproteins Srr1 and Srr2 of Streptococcus agalactiae* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2013;288(50):35982-35996.
Background: The serine-rich repeat glycoproteins Srr1 and Srr2 are surface adhesins of Streptococcus agalactiae important for pathogenicity.
Results: Both Srrs bind tandem repeats of the fibrinogen Aα chain, but Srr2 has greater affinity explained by structure-function analysis of the Srrs.
Conclusion: A dock, lock, and latch mechanism describes the Srr-fibrinogen interaction.
Significance: The higher affinity of Srr2 may contribute to the hypervirulence of Srr2-expressing strains.
The serine-rich repeat glycoproteins of Gram-positive bacteria comprise a large family of cell wall proteins. Streptococcus agalactiae (group B streptococcus, GBS) expresses either Srr1 or Srr2 on its surface, depending on the strain. Srr1 has recently been shown to bind fibrinogen, and this interaction contributes to the pathogenesis of GBS meningitis. Although strains expressing Srr2 appear to be hypervirulent, no ligand for this adhesin has been described. We now demonstrate that Srr2 also binds human fibrinogen and that this interaction promotes GBS attachment to endothelial cells. Recombinant Srr1 and Srr2 bound fibrinogen in vitro, with affinities of KD = 2.1 × 10−5 and 3.7 × 10−6 m, respectively, as measured by surface plasmon resonance spectroscopy. The binding site for Srr1 and Srr2 was localized to tandem repeats 6–8 of the fibrinogen Aα chain. The structures of both the Srr1 and Srr2 binding regions were determined and, in combination with mutagenesis studies, suggest that both Srr1 and Srr2 interact with a segment of these repeats via a “dock, lock, and latch” mechanism. Moreover, properties of the latch region may account for the increased affinity between Srr2 and fibrinogen. Together, these studies identify how greater affinity of Srr2 for fibrinogen may contribute to the increased virulence associated with Srr2-expressing strains.
PMCID: PMC3861647  PMID: 24165132
Bacterial Adhesion; Bacterial Pathogenesis; Fibrinogen; Protein Crystallization; Streptococcus; Streptococcus agalactiae; Prot
5.  Development of Novel In Vivo Chemical Probes to Address CNS Protein Kinase Involvement in Synaptic Dysfunction 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66226.
Serine-threonine protein kinases are critical to CNS function, yet there is a dearth of highly selective, CNS-active kinase inhibitors for in vivo investigations. Further, prevailing assumptions raise concerns about whether single kinase inhibitors can show in vivo efficacy for CNS pathologies, and debates over viable approaches to the development of safe and efficacious kinase inhibitors are unsettled. It is critical, therefore, that these scientific challenges be addressed in order to test hypotheses about protein kinases in neuropathology progression and the potential for in vivo modulation of their catalytic activity. Identification of molecular targets whose in vivo modulation can attenuate synaptic dysfunction would provide a foundation for future disease-modifying therapeutic development as well as insight into cellular mechanisms. Clinical and preclinical studies suggest a critical link between synaptic dysfunction in neurodegenerative disorders and the activation of p38αMAPK mediated signaling cascades. Activation in both neurons and glia also offers the unusual potential to generate enhanced responses through targeting a single kinase in two distinct cell types involved in pathology progression. However, target validation has been limited by lack of highly selective inhibitors amenable to in vivo use in the CNS. Therefore, we employed high-resolution co-crystallography and pharmacoinformatics to design and develop a novel synthetic, active site targeted, CNS-active, p38αMAPK inhibitor (MW108). Selectivity was demonstrated by large-scale kinome screens, functional GPCR agonist and antagonist analyses of off-target potential, and evaluation of cellular target engagement. In vitro and in vivo assays demonstrated that MW108 ameliorates beta-amyloid induced synaptic and cognitive dysfunction. A serendipitous discovery during co-crystallographic analyses revised prevailing models about active site targeting of inhibitors, providing insights that will facilitate future kinase inhibitor design. Overall, our studies deliver highly selective in vivo probes appropriate for CNS investigations and demonstrate that modulation of p38αMAPK activity can attenuate synaptic dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC3694096  PMID: 23840427
6.  Structural Basis for Mobility in the 1.1 Å Crystal Structure of the NG Domain of Thermus aquaticus Ffh 
Journal of molecular biology  2002;320(4):783-799.
The NG domain of the prokaryotic signal recognition protein Ffh is a two-domain GTPase that comprises part of the prokaryotic signal recognition particle (SRP) that functions in co-translational targeting of proteins to the membrane. The interface between the N and G domains includes two highly conserved sequence motifs and is adjacent in sequence and structure to one of the conserved GTPase signature motifs. Previous structural studies have shown that the relative orientation of the two domains is dynamic. The N domain of Ffh has been proposed to function in regulating the nucleotide-binding interactions of the G domain. However, biochemical studies suggest a more complex role for the domain in integrating communication between signal sequence recognition and interaction with receptor. Here, we report the structure of the apo NG GTPase of Ffh from Thermus aquaticus refined at 1.10 Å resolution. Although the G domain is very well ordered in this structure, the N domain is less well ordered, reflecting the dynamic relationship between the two domains previously inferred. We demonstrate that the anisotropic displacement parameters directly visualize the underlying mobility between the two domains, and present a detailed structural analysis of the packing of the residues, including the critical α4 helix, that comprise the interface. Our data allows us to propose a structural explanation for the functional significance of sequence elements conserved at the N/G interface.
PMCID: PMC3542393  PMID: 12095255
ultrahigh resolution; SRP; Ffh; GTPase; X-ray crystallography
7.  Structure of the Type III Secretion Effector Protein ExoU in Complex with Its Chaperone SpcU 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49388.
Disease causing bacteria often manipulate host cells in a way that facilitates the infectious process. Many pathogenic gram-negative bacteria accomplish this by using type III secretion systems. In these complex secretion pathways, bacterial chaperones direct effector proteins to a needle-like secretion apparatus, which then delivers the effector protein into the host cell cytosol. The effector protein ExoU and its chaperone SpcU are components of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa type III secretion system. Secretion of ExoU has been associated with more severe infections in both humans and animal models. Here we describe the 1.92 Å X-ray structure of the ExoU–SpcU complex, a full-length type III effector in complex with its full-length cognate chaperone. Our crystallographic data allow a better understanding of the mechanism by which ExoU kills host cells and provides a foundation for future studies aimed at designing inhibitors of this potent toxin.
PMCID: PMC3498133  PMID: 23166655
8.  Structural characterization and comparison of three acyl-carrier-protein synthases from pathogenic bacteria 
The structural characterization of acyl-carrier-protein synthase (AcpS) from three different pathogenic microorganisms is reported. One interesting finding of the present work is a crystal artifact related to the activity of the enzyme, which fortuitously represents an opportunity for a strategy to design a potential inhibitor of a pathogenic AcpS.
Some bacterial type II fatty-acid synthesis (FAS II) enzymes have been shown to be important candidates for drug discovery. The scientific and medical quest for new FAS II protein targets continues to stimulate research in this field. One of the possible additional candidates is the acyl-carrier-protein synthase (AcpS) enzyme. Its holo form post-translationally modifies the apo form of an acyl carrier protein (ACP), which assures the constant delivery of thioester intermediates to the discrete enzymes of FAS II. At the Center for Structural Genomics of Infectious Diseases (CSGID), AcpSs from Staphylococcus aureus (AcpSSA), Vibrio cholerae (AcpSVC) and Bacillus anthracis (AcpSBA) have been structurally characterized in their apo, holo and product-bound forms, respectively. The structure of AcpSBA is emphasized because of the two 3′,5′-adenosine diphosphate (3′,5′-ADP) product molecules that are found in each of the three coenzyme A (CoA) binding sites of the trimeric protein. One 3′,5′-ADP is bound as the 3′,5′-ADP part of CoA in the known structures of the CoA–AcpS and 3′,5′-ADP–AcpS binary complexes. The position of the second 3′,5′-ADP has never been described before. It is in close proximity to the first 3′,5′-­ADP and the ACP-binding site. The coordination of two ADPs in AcpSBA may possibly be exploited for the design of AcpS inhibitors that can block binding of both CoA and ACP.
PMCID: PMC3447402  PMID: 22993090
acyl-carrier-protein synthase; acyl carrier protein; type II fatty-acid synthesis; inhibition; 3′,5′-adenosine diphosphate; coenzyme A
9.  A Conserved Surface Loop in Type I Dehydroquinate Dehydratases Positions an Active Site Arginine and Functions in Substrate Binding† 
Biochemistry  2011;50(12):2357-2363.
Dehydroquinate dehydratase (DHQD) catalyzes the third step in the biosynthetic shikimate pathway. We present three crystal structures of the Salmonella enterica type I DHQD which address the functionality of a surface loop that is observed to close over the active site following substrate binding. Two wild type structures with differing loop conformations and kinetic and structural studies of a mutant provide evidence of both direct and indirect mechanisms of loop involvement in substrate binding. In addition to allowing amino acid side chains to establish a direct interaction with the substrate, loop closure necessitates a conformational change of a key active site arginine, which in turn positions the substrate productively. The absence of DHQD in humans and its essentiality in many pathogenic bacteria makes the enzyme a target for the development of nontoxic antimicrobials. The structures and ligand binding insights presented here may inform the design of novel type I DHQD inhibiting molecules.
PMCID: PMC3062685  PMID: 21291284
10.  Characterization of the Deoxynucleotide Triphosphate Triphosphohydrolase (dNTPase) Activity of the EF1143 Protein from Enterococcus faecalis and Crystal Structure of the Activator-Substrate Complex* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2011;286(38):33158-33166.
The EF1143 protein from Enterococcus faecalis is a distant homolog of deoxynucleotide triphosphate triphosphohydrolases (dNTPases) from Escherichia coli and Thermus thermophilus. These dNTPases are important components in the regulation of the dNTP pool in bacteria. Biochemical assays of the EF1143 dNTPase activity demonstrated nonspecific hydrolysis of all canonical dNTPs in the presence of Mn2+. In contrast, with Mg2+ hydrolysis required the presence of dGTP as an effector, activating the degradation of dATP and dCTP with dGTP also being consumed in the reaction with dATP. The crystal structure of EF1143 and dynamic light scattering measurements in solution revealed a tetrameric oligomer as the most probable biologically active unit. The tetramer contains four dGTP specific allosteric regulatory sites and four active sites. Examination of the active site with the dATP substrate suggests an in-line nucleophilic attack on the α-phosphate center as a possible mechanism of the hydrolysis and two highly conserved residues, His-129 and Glu-122, as an acid-base catalytic dyad. Structural differences between EF1143 apo and holo forms revealed mobility of the α3 helix that can regulate the size of the active site binding pocket and could be stabilized in the open conformation upon formation of the tetramer and dGTP effector binding.
PMCID: PMC3190883  PMID: 21757692
Allosteric Regulation; Crystal Structure; Enzyme Catalysis; Enzyme Structure; Metalloenzymes; Nucleoside Nucleotide Metabolism; Phosphodiesterases; Deoxynucleotide Triphosphate Triphosphohydrolase
11.  The Deacylation Mechanism of AmpC β-Lactamase at Ultrahigh Resolution 
β-Lactamases confer bacterial resistance to β-lactam antibiotics, such as penicillins. The characteristic class C β-lactamase AmpC catalyzes the reaction with several key residues including Ser64, Tyr150, and Lys67. Here, we describe a 1.07 Å X-ray crystallographic structure of AmpC β-lactamase in complex with a boronic acid deacylation transition-state analogue. The high quality of the electron density map allows the determination of many proton positions. The proton on the Tyr150 hydroxyl group is clearly visible and is donated to the boronic oxygen mimicking the deacylation water. Meanwhile, Lys67 hydrogen bonds with Ser64Oγ, Asn152Oδ1, and the backbone oxygen of Ala220. This suggests that this residue is positively charged and has relinquished the hydrogen bond with Tyr150 observed in acyl—enzyme complex structures. Together with previous biochemical and NMR studies, these observations indicate that Tyr150 is protonated throughout the reaction coordinate, disfavoring mechanisms that involve a stable tyrosinate as the general base for deacylation. Rather, the hydroxyl of Tyr150 appears to be well positioned to electrostatically stabilize the negative charge buildup in the tetrahedral high-energy intermediate. This structure, in itself, appears consistent with a mechanism involving either Tyr150 acting as a transient catalytic base in conjunction with a neutral Lys67 or the lactam nitrogen as the general base. Whereas mutagenesis studies suggest that Lys67 may be replaced by an arginine, disfavoring the conjugate base mechanism, distinguishing between these two hypotheses may ultimately depend on direct determination of the pKa of Lys67 along the reaction coordinate.
PMCID: PMC1544378  PMID: 16506777
12.  Detection of alkali metal ions in DNA crystals using state-of-the-art X-ray diffraction experiments 
Nucleic Acids Research  2001;29(5):1208-1215.
The observation of light metal ions in nucleic acids crystals is generally a fortuitous event. Sodium ions in particular are notoriously difficult to detect because their X-ray scattering contributions are virtually identical to those of water and Na+…O distances are only slightly shorter than strong hydrogen bonds between well-ordered water molecules. We demonstrate here that replacement of Na+ by K+, Rb+ or Cs+ and precise measurements of anomalous differences in intensities provide a particularly sensitive method for detecting alkali metal ion-binding sites in nucleic acid crystals. Not only can alkali metal ions be readily located in such structures, but the presence of Rb+ or Cs+ also allows structure determination by the single wavelength anomalous diffraction technique. Besides allowing identification of high occupancy binding sites, the combination of high resolution and anomalous diffraction data established here can also pinpoint binding sites that feature only partial occupancy. Conversely, high resolution of the data alone does not necessarily allow differentiation between water and partially ordered metal ions, as demonstrated with the crystal structure of a DNA duplex determined to a resolution of 0.6 Å.
PMCID: PMC29719  PMID: 11222771

Results 1-12 (12)