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1.  Structural Basis for Feed-Forward Transcriptional Regulation of Membrane Lipid Homeostasis in Staphylococcus aureus 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(1):e1003108.
The biosynthesis of membrane lipids is an essential pathway for virtually all bacteria. Despite its potential importance for the development of novel antibiotics, little is known about the underlying signaling mechanisms that allow bacteria to control their membrane lipid composition within narrow limits. Recent studies disclosed an elaborate feed-forward system that senses the levels of malonyl-CoA and modulates the transcription of genes that mediate fatty acid and phospholipid synthesis in many Gram-positive bacteria including several human pathogens. A key component of this network is FapR, a transcriptional regulator that binds malonyl-CoA, but whose mode of action remains enigmatic. We report here the crystal structures of FapR from Staphylococcus aureus (SaFapR) in three relevant states of its regulation cycle. The repressor-DNA complex reveals that the operator binds two SaFapR homodimers with different affinities, involving sequence-specific contacts from the helix-turn-helix motifs to the major and minor grooves of DNA. In contrast with the elongated conformation observed for the DNA-bound FapR homodimer, binding of malonyl-CoA stabilizes a different, more compact, quaternary arrangement of the repressor, in which the two DNA-binding domains are attached to either side of the central thioesterase-like domain, resulting in a non-productive overall conformation that precludes DNA binding. The structural transition between the DNA-bound and malonyl-CoA-bound states of SaFapR involves substantial changes and large (>30 Å) inter-domain movements; however, both conformational states can be populated by the ligand-free repressor species, as confirmed by the structure of SaFapR in two distinct crystal forms. Disruption of the ability of SaFapR to monitor malonyl-CoA compromises cell growth, revealing the essentiality of membrane lipid homeostasis for S. aureus survival and uncovering novel opportunities for the development of antibiotics against this major human pathogen.
Author Summary
An opportunistic Gram-positive pathogen, Staphylococcus aureus is a major threat to humans and animals, being responsible for a variety of infections ranging from mild superficial to severe infections such as infective endocarditis, septic arthritis, osteomyelitis and sepsis. The increasing resistance of S. aureus against most current antibiotics emphasizes the need to develop new approaches to control this important pathogen. The lipid biosynthetic pathway is one appealing target actively pursued to develop anti-Staphylococcal agents. Despite its potential biomedical importance, however, little is known about the signaling mechanisms that allow S. aureus to control its phospholipid content. In order to shed light on this fundamental mechanism, we studied S. aureus FapR (SaFapR) a transcription factor that senses the levels of malonyl-CoA, a key intermediate in fatty acid biosynthesis, and modulates the expression of genes involved in fatty acid and phospholipid biosynthesis. Our studies of SaFapR uncovered the mechanistic basis of a complex biological switch that controls membrane lipid homeostasis in S. aureus. We also discovered that disruption of the ability of SaFapR to recognize malonyl-CoA, the ligand that controls SaFapR binding to DNA, compromises S. aureus viability, thus revealing new opportunities for the development of antibiotics against this major human pathogen.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003108
PMCID: PMC3536700  PMID: 23300457
2.  Rational design, synthesis and evaluation of new selective inhibitors of microbial class II (zinc dependent) fructose bis-phosphate aldolases 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2010;53(21):7836-7842.
We report the synthesis and biochemical evaluation of several selective inhibitors of class II (zinc dependent) fructose bis-phosphate aldolases (Fba). The products were designed as transition-state analogues of the catalyzed reaction, structurally related to the substrate fructose bis-phosphate (or sedoheptulose bis-phosphate) and based on an N-substituted hydroxamic acid, as a chelator of the zinc ion present in active site. The compounds synthesized were tested on class II Fbas from various pathogenic microorganisms and, by comparison, on a mammalian class I Fba. The best inhibitor shows Ki against class II Fbas from various pathogens in the nM range, with very high selectivity (up to 105). Structural analyses of inhibitors in complex with aldolases rationalize and corroborate the enzymatic kinetics results. These inhibitors represent lead compounds for the preparation of new synthetic antibiotics, notably for tuberculosis prophylaxis.
doi:10.1021/jm1009814
PMCID: PMC2974033  PMID: 20929256
Fructose bisphosphate aldolase; Selective inhibitors; Hydroxamates; Candida albicans; Helicobacter pylori., Mycobacterium tuberculosis; Yersinia pestis; antibiotics
3.  Biogenesis of the cell wall and other glycoconjugates of Mycobacterium tuberculosis 
The reemergence of tuberculosis in its present-day manifectations – single, multiple and extensive drug resistant forms and as HIV-TB coinfections – has resulted in renewed research on fundamental questions such as the nature of the organism itself, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the molecular basis of its pathogenesis, definition of the immunological response in animal models and humans, and development of new intervention strategies such as vaccines and drugs. Foremost among these developments has been the precise chemical definition of the complex and distinctive cell wall of M. tuberculosis, elucidation of the relevant pathways and underlying genetics responsible for the synthesis of the hallmark moities of the tubercle bacillus such as the mycolic acid-arabinogalactan-peptidoglycan complex, the phthiocerol- and trehalose-containing effector lipids, the phosphatidylinositol-containing mannosides, lipomannosides and lipoarabinomannosides, major immunomodulators, and others. In this review, the laboratory personnel that have been the focal point of some to these developments review recent progress towards a comprehensive understanding of the basic physiology and functions of the cell wall of M. tuberculosis.
doi:10.1016/S0065-2164(09)69002-X
PMCID: PMC3066434  PMID: 19729090
4.  Preliminary crystallographic analysis of GpgS, a key glucosyltransferase involved in methylglucose lipopolysaccharide biosynthesis in Mycobacterium tuberculosis  
Glucosyl-3-phosphoglycerate synthase (GpgS) is a key enzyme that catalyses the first glucosylation step in methylglucose lipopolysaccharide biosynthesis in Mycobacterium spp. Here, the crystallization and preliminary crystallographic analysis of GpgS from M. tuberculosis and of its complex with UDP are reported.
Glucosyl-3-phosphoglycerate synthase (GpgS) is a key enzyme that catalyses the first glucosylation step in methylglucose lipopolysaccharide biosynthesis in mycobacteria. These important molecules are believed to be involved in the regulation of fatty-acid and mycolic acid synthesis. The enzyme belongs to the recently defined GT81 family of retaining glycosyltransferases (CAZy, Carbohydrate-Active Enzymes Database; see http://www.cazy.org). Here, the purification, crystallization and preliminary crystallographic analysis are reported of GpgS from Mycobacterium tuberculosis and of its complex with UDP. GpgS crystals belonged to space group I4, with unit-cell parameters a = 98.85, b = 98.85, c = 127.64 Å, and diffracted to 2.6 Å resolution. GpgS–UDP complex crystals belonged to space group I4, with unit-cell parameters a = 98.32, b = 98.32, c = 127.96 Å, and diffracted to 3.0 Å resolution.
doi:10.1107/S1744309108032892
PMCID: PMC2593697  PMID: 19052364
glycosyltransferases; methylglucose lipopolysaccharides; Mycobacterium tuberculosis
5.  Preliminary crystallographic analysis of GpgS, a key glucosyltransferase involved in methylglucose lipopolysaccharides biosynthesis in Mycobacterium tuberculosis 
Synopsis Glucosyl-3-phosphoglycerate synthase (GpgS) is a key enzyme that catalyses the first glucosylation step in methylglucose lipopolysaccharides (MGLP) biosynthesis in Mycobacterium spp. Here we report the crystallization and preliminary crystallographic analysis of GpgS from Mycobacterium tuberculosis and its complex with UDP at 2.6 Å and 3.0 Å resolution, respectively.
Glucosyl-3-phosphoglycerate synthase (GpgS) is a key enzyme that catalyses the first glucosylation step in methylglucose lipopolysaccharides (MGLP) biosynthesis in mycobacteria. These important molecules are believed to be involved in the regulation of fatty acid and mycolic acid synthesis. The enzyme belongs to the recently defined GT81 family of retaining glycosyltransferases (CAZy, Carbohydrate-Active enZymes data base; see www.cazy.org). Here we report the purification, crystallization and preliminary crystallographic analysis of GpgS from Mycobacterium tuberculosis and its complex with UDP. GpgS crystals belong to space group I4, with unit-cell parameters a = 98.85, b = 98.85, c= 127.64 Å, and diffract to 2.6 Å resolution. GpgS-UDP complex crystals belong to space group I4 with unit-cell parameters a= 98.32, b= 98.32, c= 127.96 Å, and diffract to 3.0 Å resolution.
doi:10.1107/S1744309108032892
PMCID: PMC2593697  PMID: 19052364
glycosyltransferase; methylglucose lipopolysaccharides; Mycobacterium; X ray structure
6.  Initiation of Methylglucose Lipopolysaccharide Biosynthesis in Mycobacteria 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(5):e5447.
Background
Mycobacteria produce two unique families of cytoplasmic polymethylated polysaccharides - the methylglucose lipopolysaccharides (MGLPs) and the methylmannose polysaccharides (MMPs) - the physiological functions of which are still poorly defined. Towards defining the roles of these polysaccharides in mycobacterial physiology, we generated knock-out mutations of genes in their putative biosynthetic pathways.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We report here on the characterization of the Rv1208 protein of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and its ortholog in Mycobacterium smegmatis (MSMEG_5084) as the enzymes responsible for the transfer of the first glucose residue of MGLPs. Disruption of MSMEG_5084 in M. smegmatis resulted in a dramatic decrease in MGLP synthesis directly attributable to the almost complete abolition of glucosyl-3-phosphoglycerate synthase activity in this strain. Synthesis of MGLPs in the mutant was restored upon complementation with wild-type copies of the Rv1208 gene from M. tuberculosis or MSMEG_5084 from M. smegmatis.
Conclusions/Significance
This is the first evidence linking Rv1208 to MGLP biosynthesis. Thus, the first step in the initiation of MGLP biosynthesis in mycobacteria has been defined, and subsequent steps can be inferred.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005447
PMCID: PMC2674218  PMID: 19421329
7.  Crystallization and preliminary crystallographic analysis of PimA, an essential mannosyltransferase from Mycobacterium smegmatis  
Mycobacterial PimA is an essential enzyme that catalyses the first mannosylation step in phosphatidyl-myo-inositol mannoside (PIM) biosynthesis. Crystals of the enzyme from M. smegmatis, obtained in the presence of GDP and myo-inositol, are orthorhombic (P212121) and diffract X-rays to 2.4 Å resolution.
Phosphatidylinositol mannosyltransferase (PimA) is an essential enzyme for mycobacterial growth that catalyses the first mannosylation step in phosphatidyl-myo-inositol mannoside (PIM) biosynthesis. The enzyme belongs to the large GT4 family of glycosyltransferases, for which no structure is currently available. Recombinant purified PimA from Mycobacterium smegmatis has been crystallized in the presence of GDP and myo-inositol. The crystals belong to space group P212121, with unit-cell parameters a = 37.2, b = 72.4, c = 138.2 Å, and diffract to 2.4 Å resolution.
doi:10.1107/S1744309105012364
PMCID: PMC1952298  PMID: 16511084
GT4 glycosyltransferase; tuberculosis; phosphatidylinositol mannoside; PIM; mycobacteria

Results 1-7 (7)