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1.  High yield expression of catalytically active USP18 (UBP43) using a Trigger Factor fusion system 
BMC Biotechnology  2012;12:56.
Covalent linkage of the ubiquitin-like protein ISG15 interferes with viral infection and USP18 is the major protease which specifically removes ISG15 from target proteins. Thus, boosting ISG15 modification by protease inhibition of USP18 might represent a new strategy to interfere with viral replication. However, so far no heterologous expression system was available to yield sufficient amounts of catalytically active protein for high-throughput based inhibitor screens.
High-level heterologous expression of USP18 was achieved by applying a chaperone-based fusion system in E. coli. Pure protein was obtained in a single-step on IMAC via a His6-tag. The USP18 fusion protein exhibited enzymatic activity towards cell derived ISG15 conjugated substrates and efficiently hydrolyzed ISG15-AMC. Specificity towards ISG15 was shown by covalent adduct formation with ISG15 vinyl sulfone but not with ubiquitin vinyl sulfone.
The results presented here show that a chaperone fusion system can provide high yields of proteins that are difficult to express. The USP18 protein obtained here is suited to setup high-throughput small molecule inhibitor screens and forms the basis for detailed biochemical and structural characterization.
PMCID: PMC3478164  PMID: 22916876
2.  Small-Molecule Scaffolds for CYP51 Inhibitors Identified by High-Throughput Screening and Defined by X-Ray Crystallography▿  
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2007;51(11):3915-3923.
Sterol 14α-demethylase (CYP51), a major checkpoint in membrane sterol biosynthesis, is a key target for fungal antibiotic therapy. We sought small organic molecules for lead candidate CYP51 inhibitors. The changes in CYP51 spectral properties following ligand binding make CYP51 a convenient target for high-throughput screening technologies. These changes are characteristic of either substrate binding (type I) or inhibitor binding (type II) in the active site. We screened a library of 20,000 organic molecules against Mycobacterium tuberculosis CYP51 (CYP51Mt), examined the top type I and type II binding hits for their inhibitory effects on M. tuberculosis in broth culture, and analyzed them spectrally for their ability to discriminate between CYP51Mt and two reference M. tuberculosis CYP proteins, CYP130 and CYP125. We determined the binding mode for one of the top type II hits, α-ethyl-N-4-pyridinyl-benzeneacetamide (EPBA), by solving the X-ray structure of the CYP51Mt-EPBA complex to a resolution of 1.53 Å. EPBA binds coordinately to the heme iron in the CYP51Mt active site through a lone pair of nitrogen electrons and also through hydrogen bonds with residues H259 and Y76, which are invariable in the CYP51 family, and hydrophobic interactions in a phylum- and/or substrate-specific cavity of CYP51. We also identified a second compound with structural and binding properties similar to those of EPBA, 2-(benzo[d]-2,1,3-thiadiazole-4-sulfonyl)-2-amino-2-phenyl-N-(pyridinyl-4)-acetamide (BSPPA). The congruence between the geometries of EPBA and BSPPA and the CYP51 binding site singles out EPBA and BSPPA as lead candidate CYP51 inhibitors with optimization potential for efficient discrimination between host and pathogen enzymes.
PMCID: PMC2151439  PMID: 17846131

Results 1-2 (2)