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1.  A coiled-coil domain acts as a molecular ruler in LPS chain length regulation 
Long-chain bacterial polysaccharides play important roles in pathogenicity. In Escherichia coli O9a, a model for ABC transporter dependent polysaccharide assembly, a large extracellular carbohydrate with a narrow distribution of size is polymerized from monosaccharides by a complex of two proteins, WbdA (polymerase) and WbdD (terminating protein). Such careful control of polymerization is recurring theme in biology. Combining crystallography and small angle X-ray scattering, we show that the C-terminal domain of WbdD contains an extended coiled-coil that physically separates WbdA from the catalytic domain of WbdD. The effects of insertions and deletions within the coiled-coil region were analyzed in vivo, revealing that polymer size is controlled by varying the length of the coiled-coil domain. Thus, the coiled-coil domain of WbdD functions as a molecular ruler that, along with WbdA:WbdD stoichiometry, controls the chain length of a model bacterial polysaccharide.
PMCID: PMC4650267  PMID: 25504321
2.  Wzi Is an Outer Membrane Lectin that Underpins Group 1 Capsule Assembly in Escherichia coli 
Structure(London, England:1993)  2013;21(5):844-853.
Many pathogenic bacteria encase themselves in a polysaccharide capsule that provides a barrier to the physical and immunological challenges of the host. The mechanism by which the capsule assembles around the bacterial cell is unknown. Wzi, an integral outer-membrane protein from Escherichia coli, has been implicated in the formation of group 1 capsules. The 2.6 Å resolution structure of Wzi reveals an 18-stranded β-barrel fold with a novel arrangement of long extracellular loops that blocks the extracellular entrance and a helical bundle that plugs the periplasmic end. Mutagenesis shows that specific extracellular loops are required for in vivo capsule assembly. The data show that Wzi binds the K30 carbohydrate polymer and, crucially, that mutants functionally deficient in vivo show no binding to K30 polymer in vitro. We conclude that Wzi is a novel outer-membrane lectin that assists in the formation of the bacterial capsule via direct interaction with capsular polysaccharides.
•Wzi is an 18-stranded β-barrel outer-membrane protein•Wzi has a unique N-terminal helical domain and novel extracellular loops•In vivo data show that extracellular loops are required for capsule formation•In vitro data show that these loops are required to bind K30 polymer
Wzi is a novel β-barrel outer membrane protein that is found in bacteria that make group 1 capsules. When the protein is missing or specific regions are mutated, capsule formation is impaired. Bushell et al. show that the protein binds to K30 capsular polysaccharide and suggest it templates capsule assembly.
PMCID: PMC3791409  PMID: 23623732
3.  Identification of the methyl phosphate substituent at the non-reducing terminal mannose residue of the O-specific polysaccharides of Klebsiella pneumoniae O3, Hafnia alvei PCM 1223 and Escherichia coli O9/O9a LPS 
Carbohydrate Research  2011;347(1):186-188.
O-Specific polysaccharides of Gram-negative bacteria are synthesized by two different mechanisms: polymerization of the pre-formed O-repeating unit or sequential addition of the monosaccharides to the growing polysaccharide chain. In the second case, growth of the polymer can be further subdivided into two groups depending on the presence or absence of a special monosaccharide or non-sugar substituent that terminates the glycan. A family of polymannose O-polysaccharides provides prototypes for the chain terminating process. Polysaccharides of Klebsiella pneumoniae O3, Hafnia alvei PCM 1223, and Escherichia coli O9 have the same penta-mannose repeating unit. E. coli O9a has tetra-mannose repeat and this structure can be produced by mutants of E. coli O9. The mechanism of biosynthesis of H. alvei 1223 O-polysaccharide has not been reported. Here we show that all above polysaccharides contain the same modification at the non-reducing end; presence of a methyl phosphate group at O-3 of α-mannopyranose, that serves as the signal for termination of the chain elongation.
PMCID: PMC3254779  PMID: 22169179
Hafnia; Klebsiella; LPS; methyl phosphate; O-specific polysaccharide
4.  Structure of WbdD: a bifunctional kinase and methyltransferase that regulates the chain length of the O antigen in Escherichia coli O9a 
Molecular Microbiology  2012;86(3):730-742.
The Escherichia coli serotype O9a O-antigen polysaccharide (O-PS) is a model for glycan biosynthesis and export by the ATP-binding cassette transporter-dependent pathway. The polymannose O9a O-PS is synthesized as a polyprenol-linked glycan by mannosyltransferase enzymes located at the cytoplasmic membrane. The chain length of the O9a O-PS is tightly regulated by the WbdD enzyme. WbdD first phosphorylates the terminal non-reducing mannose of the O-PS and then methylates the phosphate, stopping polymerization. The 2.2 Å resolution structure of WbdD reveals a bacterial methyltransferase domain joined to a eukaryotic kinase domain. The kinase domain is again fused to an extended C-terminal coiled-coil domain reminiscent of eukaryotic DMPK (Myotonic Dystrophy Protein Kinase) family kinases such as Rho-associated protein kinase (ROCK). WbdD phosphorylates 2-α-d-mannosyl-d-mannose (2α-MB), a short mimic of the O9a polymer. Mutagenesis identifies those residues important in catalysis and substrate recognition and the in vivo phenotypes of these mutants are used to dissect the termination reaction. We have determined the structures of co-complexes of WbdD with two known eukaryotic protein kinase inhibitors. Although these are potent inhibitors in vitro, they do not show any in vivo activity. The structures reveal new insight into O-PS chain-length regulation in this important model system.
PMCID: PMC3482155  PMID: 22970759
5.  Structure-function relationships of the outer membrane translocon Wza investigated by cryo-electron microscopy and mutagenesis 
Journal of structural biology  2009;166(2):172-182.
The outer membrane protein, Wza from E. coli K30, forms an octameric complex that is essential for capsular polysaccharide export. Homologs of Wza are widespread in gram-negative bacterial pathogens where capsules are critical virulence determinants. Wza is unusual in that it spans the outer membrane using a barrel composed of amphipathic α-helices, rather than being a β-barrel like almost all other outer membrane channels. The transmembrane helical barrel of Wza also forms the external opening to a hydrophilic translocation pathway that spans the periplasm. Here, we have probed the structure and function of the Wza complex using both cryo-electron microscopy and mutagenesis. The helical barrel structure is stable in detergent micelles under mildly acidic conditions but is destabilised at basic pH, although the overall quaternary structure is retained. Truncation of the C-terminal region that forms the helical barrel by 4 residues has no effect on the ability of Wza to oligomerize and support capsule export, but larger truncations of 18, 24 or 35 amino acids abolish its function. The bulk of the C-terminal domain is essential for the stability and assembly of the E. coli Wza complex.
PMCID: PMC3498625  PMID: 19236919
Outer membrane protein; capsular polysaccharide; transport; Wza; cryo-electron microscopy
6.  Structure of WbdD: a bifunctional kinase and methyltransferase that regulates the chain length of the O antigen in Escherichia coli O9a 
Molecular microbiology  2012;86(3):730-742.
The Escherichia coli serotype O9a O-antigen polysaccharide (O-PS) is a model for glycan biosynthesis and export by the ATP-binding cassette transporter-dependent pathway. The polymannose O9a O-PS is synthesized as a polyprenol-linked glycan by mannosyltransferase enzymes located at the cytoplasmic membrane. The chain length of the O9a O-PS is tightly regulated by the WbdD enzyme. WbdD first phosphorylates the terminal non-reducing mannose of the O-PS and then methylates the phosphate, stopping polymerization. The 2.2 Å resolution structure of WbdD reveals a bacterial methyltransferase domain joined to a eukaryotic kinase domain. The kinase domain is again fused to an extended C-terminal coiled-coil domain reminiscent of eukaryotic DMPK (Myotonic Dystrophy Protein Kinase) family kinases such as Rho-associated protein kinase (ROCK). WbdD phosphorylates 2-α-d-mannosyl-d-mannose (2α-MB), a short mimic of the O9a polymer. Mutagenesis identifies those residues important in catalysis and substrate recognition and the in vivo phenotypes of these mutants are used to dissect the termination reaction. We have determined the structures of co-complexes of WbdD with two known eukaryotic protein kinase inhibitors. Although these are potent inhibitors in vitro, they do not show any in vivo activity. The structures reveal new insight into O-PS chain-length regulation in this important model system.
PMCID: PMC3482155  PMID: 22970759
7.  Crystallization, dehydration and experimental phasing of WbdD, a bifunctional kinase and methyltransferase from Escherichia coli O9a 
The optimization of WbdD crystals using a novel dehydration protocol and experimental phasing at 3.5 Å resolution by cross-crystal averaging followed by molecular replacement of electron density into a non-isomorphous 3.0 Å resolution native data set are reported.
WbdD is a bifunctional kinase/methyltransferase that is responsible for regulation of lipopolysaccharide O antigen polysaccharide chain length in Escherichia coli serotype O9a. Solving the crystal structure of this protein proved to be a challenge because the available crystals belonging to space group I23 only diffracted to low resolution (>95% of the crystals diffracted to resolution lower than 4 Å and most only to 8 Å) and were non-isomorphous, with changes in unit-cell dimensions of greater than 10%. Data from a serendipitously found single native crystal that diffracted to 3.0 Å resolution were non-isomorphous with a lower (3.5 Å) resolution selenomethionine data set. Here, a strategy for improving poor (3.5 Å resolution) initial phases by density modification and cross-crystal averaging with an additional 4.2 Å resolution data set to build a crude model of WbdD is desribed. Using this crude model as a mask to cut out the 3.5 Å resolution electron density yielded a successful molecular-replacement solution of the 3.0 Å resolution data set. The resulting map was used to build a complete model of WbdD. The hydration status of individual crystals appears to underpin the variable diffraction quality of WbdD crystals. After the initial structure had been solved, methods to control the hydration status of WbdD were developed and it was thus possible to routinely obtain high-resolution diffraction (to better than 2.5 Å resolution). This novel and facile crystal-dehydration protocol may be useful for similar challenging situations.
PMCID: PMC3447403  PMID: 22993091
WbdD; crystal dehydration
8.  Periplasmic export machines for outer membrane assembly 
The cell envelope of Gram-negative bacteria protects the organism from environmental stresses, components of the innate immune response, and the actions of other antagonistic molecules. However, the complexity of the cell envelope dictated by these protective roles creates a significant challenge for assembly of the outer membrane. Extensive research has focused on the export and assembly of outer membrane proteins and there is continuing progress in this area. By contrast, knowledge of the export and assembly of complex glycoconjugates in the outer membrane has been limited until recently. New structural and biochemical information identifies an envelope-spanning molecular scaffold for the export of group 1 capsular polysaccharides and provides insight into a complex molecular machine.
PMCID: PMC3326526  PMID: 18495473
9.  Crystal structures of Mycobacteria tuberculosis and Klebsiella pneumoniae UDP-galactopyranose mutase in the oxidised state and Klebsiella pneumoniae UDP-galactopyranose mutase in the (active) reduced state 
Journal of molecular biology  2005;348(4):971-982.
Uridine diphosphogalactofuranose (UDP-Galf) is the precursor of the D-galactofuranose sugar found in bacterial and parasitic cell walls, including those of many pathogens. UDP-Galf is made from UDP-galactopyranose by the enzyme UDP-galactopyranose mutase. The enzyme requires the reduced FADH− co-factor for activity. The structure of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis mutase with FAD has been determined to 2.25Å. The structures of Klebsiella pneumoniae mutase with FAD and with FADH− bound have been determined to 2.2Å and 2.35Å resolutions respectively. This is the first report of the FADH− containing structure. Two flavin dependent mechanisms for the enzyme have been proposed, one which involves a covalent adduct being formed at the flavin and the other based on electron transfer. Using our structural data, we have examined the two mechanisms. The electron transfer mechanism is consistent with the structural data, not surprisingly since it makes fewer demands on the precise positioning of atoms. A model based on a covalent adduct FAD requires repositioning of the enzyme active site and would appear to require that the isoalloxazine ring of FADH− to buckle in a particular way. However, the FADH− structure reveals that the isoalloxazine ring buckles in the opposite sense, this apparently requires the covalent adduct to trigger profound conformational changes in the protein or to buckle the FADH− opposite to that seen in the apo structure.
PMCID: PMC3326527  PMID: 15843027
Crystal structure; mutase; TB; contractase
10.  Sugar Nucleotide Recognition by Klebsiella pneumoniae UDP-d-Galactopyranose Mutase: Fluorinated Substrates, Kinetics and Equilibria 
Organic & biomolecular chemistry  2009;7(5):1009-1016.
A series of selectively fluorinated and other substituted UDP-d-galactose derivatives have been evaluated as substrates for Klebsiella pneumoniae UDP-d-galactopyranose mutase. This enzyme, which catalyses the interconversion of the pyranose and furanose forms of galactose as its UDP adduct, is a prospective drug target for a variety of microbial infections. We show that none of the 2″-, 3″- or 6″-hydroxyl groups of UDP-d-galactopyranose are essential for substrate binding and turnover. However, steric factors appear to play an important role in limiting the range of substitutions that can be accommodated at C-2″ and C-6″ of the sugar nucleotide substrate. Attempts to invert the C-2″ stereochemistry from equatorial to axial, changing d-galacto- to d-talo-configuration, in an attempt to exploit the higher percentage of furanose at equilibrium in the talo-series, met with no turnover of substrate.
PMCID: PMC3326532  PMID: 19225684
Fluorosugar nucleotides; UDP-d-galactopyranose mutase; Mechanism; Equilibrium
11.  The structure of Wza, the translocon for group 1 capsular polysaccharides in Escherichia coli, identifies a new class of outer membrane protein 
Nature  2006;444(7116):226-229.
Pathogenic bacteria frequently cloak themselves with a capsular polysaccharide layer. Escherichia coli group 1 capsules are formed from repeat-unit polysaccharides with molecular weights exceeding 100 kDa. The export of such a large polar molecule across the hydrophobic outer membrane in Gram-negative bacteria presents a formidable challenge, given that the permeability barrier of the membrane must be maintained. We describe the 2.26 Å structure of Wza, an integral outer membrane protein, that is essential for capsule export. Wza is an octamer, with a composite molecular weight of 340 kDa, and it forms an “amphora”-like structure. The protein has a large central cavity 100 Å long and 30 Å wide. The transmembrane region is a novel α-helical barrel, and is linked to three additional novel periplasmic domains, marking Wza as the representative of a new class of membrane protein. Although Wza is open to the extracellular environment, a flexible loop in the periplasmic region occludes the cavity and may regulate the opening of the channel. The structure defines the route taken by the capsular polymer as it exits the cell, using the structural data we propose a mechanism for the translocation of the large polar capsular polysaccharide.
PMCID: PMC3315050  PMID: 17086202
12.  Periplasmic Protein-Protein Contacts in the Inner Membrane Protein Wzc Form a Tetrameric Complex Required for the Assembly of Escherichia coli Group 1 Capsules* 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2005;281(4):2144-2150.
The K antigenic capsular polysaccharide forms a structural layer, the capsule, on the surfaces of Escherichia coli cells. The capsule provides an important protective covering that helps protect encapsulated bacteria from host immune defenses. The assembly and translocation of the capsule requires proteins in the inner and outer membranes. The inner membrane protein Wzc is a tyrosine autokinase that plays an essential role in what is believed to be a coordinated biosynthesis and secretion process. Mutants lacking Wzc can form K antigen oligosaccharides but are unable to polymerize high molecular weight capsular polymers. Wzc homologs have been identified in exopolymer biosynthesis systems in many different Gram-negative and -positive bacteria. Using single particle averaging on cryo-negatively stained samples, we have produced the first three-dimensional structure of this type of membrane protein in its phosphorylated state at ~14 Å resolution. Perfluoro-octanoate-PAGE analysis of detergent-solubilized oligomeric Wzc and symmetry analysis of the transmission electron microscopy data clearly demonstrated that Wzc forms a tetrameric complex with C4 rotational symmetry. Viewed from the top of the complex, the oligomer is square with a diameter of ~100 Å and can be divided into four separate densities. From the side, Wzc is ~110 Å high and has a distinctive appearance similar to an extracted molar tooth. The upper “crown” region is ~55 Å high and forms a continuous ring of density. Four unconnected “roots” (~65 Å high) emerge from the underside of the crown. We propose that the crown is formed by protein-protein contacts from the four Wzc periplasmic domains, while each root represents an individual cytoplasmic tyrosine autokinase domain.
PMCID: PMC3315051  PMID: 16172129
13.  Two-step purification of outer membrane proteins 
Here, we describe a simple and efficient method for the purification of Escherichia coli outer membrane proteins. We have tested this protocol for the purification of Wza and Osmoporin C (OmpC) proteins. Both proteins were purified to homogeneity, in two steps, by anion exchange and size exclusion chromatography with a final yield of 92.5 mg for the Wza protein and 291.5 mg for the OmpC protein. The purity of the samples was judged by electrophoretic analysis, mass spectrometry, single particle analysis, three-dimensional (3D) crystallisation and X-ray diffraction.
PMCID: PMC3314194  PMID: 16423387
Membrane protein purification; Wza; OmpC; OmpA; MALDI-TOF; Electron microscopy; 3D crystals; X-ray diffraction
15.  Genetic Interaction Maps in Escherichia coli Reveal Functional Crosstalk among Cell Envelope Biogenesis Pathways 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(11):e1002377.
As the interface between a microbe and its environment, the bacterial cell envelope has broad biological and clinical significance. While numerous biosynthesis genes and pathways have been identified and studied in isolation, how these intersect functionally to ensure envelope integrity during adaptive responses to environmental challenge remains unclear. To this end, we performed high-density synthetic genetic screens to generate quantitative functional association maps encompassing virtually the entire cell envelope biosynthetic machinery of Escherichia coli under both auxotrophic (rich medium) and prototrophic (minimal medium) culture conditions. The differential patterns of genetic interactions detected among >235,000 digenic mutant combinations tested reveal unexpected condition-specific functional crosstalk and genetic backup mechanisms that ensure stress-resistant envelope assembly and maintenance. These networks also provide insights into the global systems connectivity and dynamic functional reorganization of a universal bacterial structure that is both broadly conserved among eubacteria (including pathogens) and an important target.
Author Summary
Proper assembly of the cell envelope is essential for bacterial growth, environmental adaptation, and drug resistance. Yet, while the biological roles of the many genes and pathways involved in biosynthesis of the cell envelope have been studied extensively in isolation, how the myriad components intersect functionally to maintain envelope integrity under different growth conditions has not been explored systematically. Genome-scale genetic interaction screens have increasingly been performed to great impact in yeast; no analogous comprehensive studies have yet been reported for bacteria despite their prominence in human health and disease. We addressed this by using a synthetic genetic array technology to generate quantitative maps of genetic interactions encompassing virtually all the components of the cell envelope biosynthetic machinery of the classic model bacterium E. coli in two common laboratory growth conditions (rich and minimal medium). From the resulting networks of high-confidence genetic interactions, we identify condition-specific functional dependencies underlying envelope assembly and global remodeling of genetic backup mechanisms that ensure envelope integrity under environmental challenge.
PMCID: PMC3219608  PMID: 22125496
16.  ABC Transporters Involved in Export of Cell Surface Glycoconjugates 
Summary: Complex glycoconjugates play critical roles in the biology of microorganisms. Despite the remarkable diversity in glycan structures and the bacteria that produce them, conserved themes are evident in the biosynthesis-export pathways. One of the primary pathways involves representatives of the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter superfamily. These proteins are responsible for the export of a wide variety of cell surface oligo- and polysaccharides in both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. Recent investigations of the structure and function of ABC transporters involved in the export of lipopolysaccharide O antigens have revealed two fundamentally different strategies for coupling glycan polymerization to export. These mechanisms are distinguished by the presence (or absence) of characteristic nonreducing terminal modifications on the export substrates, which serve as chain termination and/or export signals, and by the presence (or absence) of a discrete substrate-binding domain in the nucleotide-binding domain polypeptide of the ABC transporter. A bioinformatic survey examining ABC exporters from known oligo- and polysaccharide biosynthesis loci identifies conserved nucleotide-binding domain protein families that correlate well with themes in the structures and assembly of glycans. The familial relationships among the ABC exporters generate hypotheses concerning the biosynthesis of structurally diverse oligo- and polysaccharides, which play important roles in the biology of bacteria with different lifestyles.
PMCID: PMC2937517  PMID: 20805402
17.  Crystallization and preliminary diffraction analysis of Wzi, a member of the capsule export and assembly pathway in Escherichia coli  
Wzi is a membrane protein from E. coli thought to be involved in the attachment of capsular polysaccharides to the bacterial surface. This reports describes recombinant Wzi’s purification, crystallization and the results of initial diffraction studies.
External polysaccharide capsules provide a physical barrier that is employed by many species of bacteria for the purposes of host evasion and persistence. Wzi is a 53 kDa outer membrane β-barrel protein that is thought to play a role in the attachment of group 1 capsular polysaccharides to the cell surface. The purification and crystallization of an Escherichia coli homologue of Wzi is reported and diffraction data from native and selenomethionine-incorporated protein crystals are presented. Crystals of C-terminally His6-tagged Wzi diffracted to 2.8 Å resolution. Data processing showed that the crystals belonged to the orthorhombic space group C222, with unit-cell parameters a = 128.8, b = 152.8, c = 94.4 Å, α = β = γ = 90°. A His-tagged selenomethionine-containing variant of Wzi has also been crystallized in the same space group and diffraction data have been recorded to 3.8 Å resolution. Data processing shows that the variant crystal has similar unit-cell parameters to the native crystal.
PMCID: PMC2998369  PMID: 21139210
Wzi; polysaccharide capsules; Escherichia coli
18.  Structure and Functional Analysis of LptC, a Conserved Membrane Protein Involved in the Lipopolysaccharide Export Pathway in Escherichia coli* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2010;285(43):33529-33539.
LptC is a conserved bitopic inner membrane protein from Escherichia coli involved in the export of lipopolysaccharide from its site of synthesis in the cytoplasmic membrane to the outer membrane. LptC forms a complex with the ATP-binding cassette transporter, LptBFG, which is thought to facilitate the extraction of lipopolysaccharide from the inner membrane and release it into a translocation pathway that includes the putative periplasmic chaperone LptA. Cysteine modification experiments established that the catalytic domain of LptC is oriented toward the periplasm. The structure of the periplasmic domain is described at a resolution of 2.2-Å from x-ray crystallographic data. The periplasmic domain of LptC consists of a twisted boat structure with two β-sheets in apposition to each other. The β-sheets contain seven and eight antiparallel β-strands, respectively. This structure bears a high degree of resemblance to the crystal structure of LptA. Like LptA, LptC binds lipopolysaccharide in vitro. In vitro, LptA can displace lipopolysaccharide from LptC (but not vice versa), consistent with their locations and their proposed placement in a unidirectional export pathway.
PMCID: PMC2963376  PMID: 20720015
Bacteria; Cell Surface; Crystal Structure; Endotoxin; Lipopolysaccharide (LPS); Membrane Biogenesis; Membrane Proteins; Membrane Trafficking; LPS Export; Lpt Proteins
19.  Pivotal Roles of the Outer Membrane Polysaccharide Export and Polysaccharide Copolymerase Protein Families in Export of Extracellular Polysaccharides in Gram-Negative Bacteria 
Summary: Many bacteria export extracellular polysaccharides (EPS) and capsular polysaccharides (CPS). These polymers exhibit remarkably diverse structures and play important roles in the biology of free-living, commensal, and pathogenic bacteria. EPS and CPS production represents a major challenge because these high-molecular-weight hydrophilic polymers must be assembled and exported in a process spanning the envelope, without compromising the essential barrier properties of the envelope. Emerging evidence points to the existence of molecular scaffolds that perform these critical polymer-trafficking functions. Two major pathways with different polymer biosynthesis strategies are involved in the assembly of most EPS/CPS: the Wzy-dependent and ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter-dependent pathways. They converge in an outer membrane export step mediated by a member of the outer membrane auxiliary (OMA) protein family. OMA proteins form outer membrane efflux channels for the polymers, and here we propose the revised name outer membrane polysaccharide export (OPX) proteins. Proteins in the polysaccharide copolymerase (PCP) family have been implicated in several aspects of polymer biogenesis, but there is unequivocal evidence for some systems that PCP and OPX proteins interact to form a trans-envelope scaffold for polymer export. Understanding of the precise functions of the OPX and PCP proteins has been advanced by recent findings from biochemistry and structural biology approaches and by parallel studies of other macromolecular trafficking events. Phylogenetic analyses reported here also contribute important new insight into the distribution, structural relationships, and function of the OPX and PCP proteins. This review is intended as an update on progress in this important area of microbial cell biology.
PMCID: PMC2650888  PMID: 19258536
20.  Crystal Structures of Wzb of Escherichia coli and CpsB of Streptococcus pneumoniae, Representatives of Two Families of Tyrosine Phosphatases that Regulate Capsule Assembly 
Journal of Molecular Biology  2009;392(3):678-688.
Many Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria utilize polysaccharide surface layers called capsules to evade the immune system; consequently, the synthesis and export of the capsule are a potential therapeutic target. In Escherichia coli K-30, the integral membrane tyrosine autokinase Wzc and the cognate phosphatase Wzb have been shown to be key for both synthesis and assembly of capsular polysaccharides. In the Gram-positive bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae, the CpsCD complex is analogous to Wzc and the phosphatase CpsB is the corresponding cognate phosphatase. The phosphatases are known to dephosphorylate their corresponding autokinases, yet despite their functional equivalence, they share no sequence homology. We present the structure of Wzb in complex with phosphate and high-resolution structures of apo-CpsB and a phosphate-complexed CpsB. We show that both proteins are active toward Wzc and thereby demonstrate that CpsB is not specific for CpsCD. CpsB is a novel enzyme and represents the first solved structure of a tyrosine phosphatase from a Gram-positive bacterium. Wzb and CpsB have completely different structures, suggesting that they must operate by very different mechanisms. Although the mechanism of Wzb can be inferred from previous studies, CpsB appears to have a tyrosine phosphatase mechanism not observed before. We propose a chemical mechanism for CpsB based on site-directed mutagenesis and structural data.
PMCID: PMC2777267  PMID: 19616007
CPS, capsular polysaccharide; PHP, polymerase and histidinol phosphatase; pNPP, para-nitrophenylphosphate; enzyme mechanism; kinase; phosphatase; pathogenic bacteria; capsule
21.  Crystallization and preliminary crystallographic analysis of the bacterial capsule assembly-regulating tyrosine phosphatases Wzb of Escherichia coli and Cps4B of Streptococcus pneumoniae  
The crystallization is reported of two bacterial tyrosine phosphatases which belong to different enzyme families despite their ability to catalyse identical reactions.
Bacterial tyrosine kinases and their cognate phosphatases are key players in the regulation of capsule assembly and thus are important virulence determinants of these bacteria. Examples of the kinase/phosphatase pairing are found in Gram-negative bacteria such as Escherichia coli (Wzc and Wzb) and in Gram-positive bacteria such as Streptococcus pneumoniae (CpsCD and CpsB). Although Wzb and Cps4B are both predicted to dephosphorylate the C-terminal tyrosine cluster of their cognate tyrosine kinase, they appear on the basis of protein sequence to belong to quite different enzyme classes. Recombinant purified proteins Cps4B of S. pneumoniae TIGR4 and Wzb of E. coli K-30 have been crystallized. Wzb crystals belonged to space-group family P3x21 and diffracted to 2.7 Å resolution. Crystal form I of Cps4B belonged to space-group family P4x212 and diffracted to 2.8 Å resolution; crystal form II belonged to space group P212121 and diffracted to 1.9 Å resolution.
PMCID: PMC2720329  PMID: 19652335
Wzb; Cps4B; kinases; phosphatases
22.  Lipopolysaccharide Endotoxins 
Annual review of biochemistry  2001;71:635-700.
Since lipopolysaccharide endotoxins of Gram-negative bacteria were last reviewed in this series in 1990, much has been learned about the assembly and signaling functions of these remarkable glycoconjugates. Lipopolysaccharides typically consist of a hydrophobic domain known as lipid A (or endotoxin), a non-repeating “core” oligosaccharide, and a distal polysaccharide (or O-antigen). The flood of recent genomic data has made it possible to study lipopolysaccharide assembly in diverse Gram-negative bacteria, many of which are human or plant pathogens, and to create mutants or hybrid constructs with novel properties. Unexpectedly, key genes for lipid A biosynthesis have also been found in higher plants, indicating that eucaryotic lipid A-like molecules may exist. The carbohydrate diversity of lipopolysaccharides is better appreciated now than ten years ago, but much remains to be learned about function. Sequence comparisons suggest that extensive lateral transfer of genes for the assembly of O-antigens has occurred among bacteria. The most significant finding in the field of endotoxin biology since 1990 has been the identification of the plasma membrane protein TLR4 as the lipid A signaling receptor of animal cells. The latter belongs to a family of innate immunity receptors, all of which possess a large extracellular domain of leucine-rich repeats, a single trans-membrane segment and a smaller cytoplasmic signaling region that engages the adaptor protein MyD88. The expanding knowledge of TLR4 specificity and its downstream signaling pathways should provide new opportunities for blocking the inflammatory side effects of sepsis. Future progress will require insights into lipopolysaccharide-protein recognition at the atomic level, greater understanding of intra- and inter-cellular lipopolysaccharide trafficking, and incisive biological approaches that combine the tools of bacterial and animal genetics.
PMCID: PMC2569852  PMID: 12045108
23.  RmlC, a C3′ and C3′ carbohydrate epimerase, appears to operate via an intermediate with an unusual twist boat conformation. 
Journal of molecular biology  2006;365(1):146-159.
The striking feature of carbohydrates is their constitutional, conformational and configurational diversity. Biology has harnessed this diversity and manipulates carbohydrate residues in a variety of ways, one of which is epimerization. RmlC catalyzes the epimerization of the C3′ and C5′ positions of dTDP-6-deoxy-D-xylo-4-hexulose, forming dTDP-6-deoxy-L-lyxo-4-hexulose. RmlC is the third enzyme of the rhamnose pathway, and represents a validated anti-bacterial drug target. Although several structures of the enzyme have been reported, the mechanism and the nature of the intermediates have remained obscure. Despite its relatively small size (22 kDa), RmlC catalyses four stereospecific proton transfers and the substrate undergoes a major conformational change during the course of the transformation. Here we report the structure of RmlC from several organisms in complex with product and product mimics. We have probed site-directed mutants by assay and by deuterium exchange. The combination of structural and biochemical data has allowed us to assign key residues and identify the conformation of the carbohydrate during turnover. Clear knowledge of the chemical structure of RmlC reaction intermediates may offer new opportunities for rational drug design.
PMCID: PMC1805628  PMID: 17046787
site directed mutagenesis; X-ray crystallography; drug design; epimerization; enzyme
24.  Functional Characterization of the Initiation Enzyme of S-Layer Glycoprotein Glycan Biosynthesis in Geobacillus stearothermophilus NRS 2004/3a▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;189(7):2590-2598.
The glycan chain of the S-layer glycoprotein of Geobacillus stearothermophilus NRS 2004/3a is composed of repeating units [→2)-α-l-Rhap-(1→3)-β-l-Rhap-(1→2)-α-l-Rhap-(1→], with a 2-O-methyl modification of the terminal trisaccharide at the nonreducing end of the glycan chain, a core saccharide composed of two or three α-l-rhamnose residues, and a β-d-galactose residue as a linker to the S-layer protein. In this study, we report the biochemical characterization of WsaP of the S-layer glycosylation gene cluster as a UDP-Gal:phosphoryl-polyprenol Gal-1-phosphate transferase that primes the S-layer glycoprotein glycan biosynthesis of Geobacillus stearothermophilus NRS 2004/3a. Our results demonstrate that the enzyme transfers in vitro a galactose-1-phosphate from UDP-galactose to endogenous phosphoryl-polyprenol and that the C-terminal half of WsaP carries the galactosyltransferase function, as already observed for the UDP-Gal:phosphoryl-polyprenol Gal-1-phosphate transferase WbaP from Salmonella enterica. To confirm the function of the enzyme, we show that WsaP is capable of reconstituting polysaccharide biosynthesis in WbaP-deficient strains of Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium.
PMCID: PMC1855796  PMID: 17237178
25.  Functional Analysis of Conserved Gene Products Involved in Assembly of Escherichia coli Capsules and Exopolysaccharides: Evidence for Molecular Recognition between Wza and Wzc for Colanic Acid Biosynthesis 
Journal of Bacteriology  2005;187(15):5470-5481.
Group 1 capsular polysaccharides (CPSs) of Escherichia coli and some loosely cell-associated exopolysaccharides (EPSs), such as colanic acid, are assembled by a Wzy-dependent polymerization system. In this biosynthesis pathway, Wza, Wzb, and Wzc homologues are required for surface expression of wild-type CPS or EPS. Multimeric complexes of Wza in the outer membrane are believed to provide a channel for polymer export; Wzc is an inner membrane tyrosine autokinase and Wzb is its cognate phosphatase. This study was performed to determine whether the Wza, Wzb, and Wzc proteins for colanic acid expression in E. coli K-12 could function in the E. coli K30 prototype group 1 capsule system. When expressed together, colanic acid Wza, Wzb, and Wzc could complement a wza-wzb-wzc defect in E. coli K30, suggesting conservation in their collective function in Wzy-dependent CPS and EPS systems. Expressed individually, colanic acid Wza and Wzb could also function in K30 CPS expression. In contrast, the structural requirements for Wzc function were more stringent because colanic acid Wzc could restore translocation of K30 CPS to the cell surface only when expressed with its cognate Wza protein. Chimeric colanic acid-K30 Wzc proteins were constructed to further study this interaction. These proteins could restore K30 biosynthesis but were unable to couple synthesis to export. The chimeric protein comprising the periplasmic domain of colanic acid Wzc was functional for effective K30 CPS surface expression only when coexpressed with colanic acid Wza. These data highlight the importance of Wza-Wzc interactions in group 1 CPS assembly.
PMCID: PMC1196018  PMID: 16030241

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