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1.  Genomic Analysis Identifies Targets of Convergent Positive Selection in Drug Resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis 
Nature genetics  2013;45(10):10.1038/ng.2747.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis is successfully evolving antibiotic resistance, threatening attempts at tuberculosis epidemic control. Mechanisms of resistance, including the genetic changes favored by selection in resistant isolates, are incompletely understood. Using 116 newly and 7 previously sequenced M. tuberculosis genomes, we identified genomewide signatures of positive selection specific to the 47 resistant genomes. By searching for convergent evolution, the independent fixation of mutations at the same nucleotide site or gene, we recovered 100% of a set of known resistance markers. We also found evidence of positive selection in an additional 39 genomic regions in resistant isolates. These regions encode pathways of cell wall biosynthesis, transcriptional regulation and DNA repair. Mutations in these regions could directly confer resistance or compensate for fitness costs associated with resistance. Functional genetic analysis of mutations in one gene, ponA1, demonstrated an in vitro growth advantage in the presence of the drug rifampicin.
PMCID: PMC3887553  PMID: 23995135
2.  Computational prediction and validation of C/D, H/ACA and Eh_U3 snoRNAs of Entamoeba histolytica 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:390.
Small nucleolar RNAs are a highly conserved group of small RNAs found in eukaryotic cells. Genes encoding these RNAs are diversely located throughout the genome. They are functionally conserved, performing post transcriptional modification (methylation and pseudouridylation) of rRNA and other nuclear RNAs. They belong to two major categories: the C/D box and H/ACA box containing snoRNAs. U3 snoRNA is an exceptional member of C/D box snoRNAs and is involved in early processing of pre-rRNA. An antisense sequence is present in each snoRNA which guides the modification or processing of target RNA. However, some snoRNAs lack this sequence and often they are called orphan snoRNAs.
We have searched snoRNAs of Entamoeba histolytica from the genome sequence using computational programmes (snoscan and snoSeeker) and we obtained 99 snoRNAs (C/D and H/ACA box snoRNAs) along with 5 copies of Eh_U3 snoRNAs. These are located diversely in the genome, mostly in intergenic regions, while some are found in ORFs of protein coding genes, intron and UTRs. The computationally predicted snoRNAs were validated by RT-PCR and northern blotting. The expected sizes were in agreement with the observed sizes for all C/D box snoRNAs tested, while for some of the H/ACA box there was indication of processing to generate shorter products.
Our results showed the presence of snoRNAs in E. histolytica, an early branching eukaryote, and the structural features of E. histolytica snoRNAs were well conserved when compared with yeast and human snoRNAs. This study will help in understanding the evolution of these conserved RNAs in diverse phylogenetic groups.
PMCID: PMC3542256  PMID: 22892049
U3 snoRNA; Guide/ orphan snoRNAs; Entamoeba histolytica
3.  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 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.
PMCID: PMC2593697  PMID: 19052364
glycosyltransferases; methylglucose lipopolysaccharides; Mycobacterium tuberculosis
4.  The structural basis of chain length control in Rv1086 
Journal of molecular biology  2008;381(1):129-140.
In Mycobacterium tuberculosis two related Z-prenyl diphosphate synthases, E,Z-farnesyl diphosphate synthase (Rv1086) and decaprenyl diphosphate synthase (Rv2361c) work in series to synthesize decaprenyl phosphate (C50) from isopentenyl diphosphate and E-geranyl diphosphate. Decaprenyl phosphate plays a central role in the biosynthesis of essential mycobacterial cell wall components, such as the mycolyl-arabinogalactan-peptidoglycan complex and lipoarabinomannan; thus, its synthesis has attracted considerable interest as a potential therapeutic target. Rv1086 is a unique prenyl diphosphate synthase in that it adds only one isoprene unit to geranyl diphosphate generating the 15 carbon product (E,Z-farnesyl diphosphate). Rv2361c then adds a further 7 isoprene units to E,Z-farnesyl diphosphate in a processive manner to generate the 50 carbon prenyl diphosphate, which is then dephosphorylated to generate a carrier for activated sugars. The molecular basis for chain length discrimination by Rv1086 during synthesis is unknown. We also report the structure of apo Rv1086 with citronellyl diphosphate bound and with the product mimic E,E-farnesyl diphosphate bound. We report the structures of Rv2361c in the apo form, with isopentyl diphosphate bound and with a substrate analogue, citronellyl diphosphate. The structures confirm the enzymes are very closely related. Detailed comparison reveals structural differences that account for chain length control in Rv1086. We have tested this hypothesis and have identified a double mutant of Rv1086 which makes a range of longer lipid chains.
PMCID: PMC2527485  PMID: 18597781
Drug design; enzyme mechanism; tuberculosis; x-ray crystallography; inhibitors
5.  Initiation of Methylglucose Lipopolysaccharide Biosynthesis in Mycobacteria 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(5):e5447.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC2674218  PMID: 19421329
6.  Characterization of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis 4-Diphosphocytidyl-2-C-Methyl-d-Erythritol Synthase: Potential for Drug Development▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;189(24):8922-8927.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis utilizes the methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway for biosynthesis of isopentenyl diphosphate and its isomer, dimethylallyl diphosphate, precursors of all isoprenoid compounds. This pathway is of interest as a source of new drug targets, as it is absent from humans and disruption of the responsible genes has shown a lethal phenotype for Escherichia coli. In the MEP pathway, 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-d-erythritol is formed from 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) and CTP in a reaction catalyzed by a 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-d-erythritol synthase (IspD). In the present work, we demonstrate that Rv3582c is essential for M. tuberculosis: Rv3582c has been cloned and expressed, and the encoded protein has been purified. The purified M. tuberculosis IspD protein was capable of catalyzing the formation of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-d-erythritol in the presence of MEP and CTP. The enzyme was active over a broad pH range (pH 6.0 to 9.0), with peak activity at pH 8.0. The activity was absolutely dependent upon divalent cations, with 20 mM Mg2+ being optimal, and replacement of CTP with other nucleotide 5′-triphosphates did not support activity. Under the conditions tested, M. tuberculosis IspD had Km values of 58.5 μM for MEP and 53.2 μM for CTP. Calculated kcat and kcat/Km values were 0.72 min−1 and 12.3 mM−1 min−1 for MEP and 1.0 min−1 and 18.8 mM−1 min−1 for CTP, respectively.
PMCID: PMC2168624  PMID: 17921290
7.  Decaprenyl Diphosphate Synthesis in Mycobacterium tuberculosis 
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(22):7564-7570.
Z-prenyl diphosphate synthases catalyze the sequential condensation of isopentenyl diphosphate with allylic diphosphates to synthesize polyprenyl diphosphates. In mycobacteria, these are precursors of decaprenyl phosphate, a molecule which plays a central role in the biosynthesis of essential mycobacterial cell wall components, such as the mycolyl-arabinogalactan-peptidoglycan complex and lipoarabinomannan. Recently, it was demonstrated that open reading frame Rv2361c of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Rv genome encodes a unique prenyl diphosphate synthase (M. C. Schulbach, P. J. Brennan, and D. C. Crick, J. Biol. Chem. 275:22876-22881, 2000). We have now purified the enzyme to near homogeneity by using an Escherichia coli expression system and have shown that the product of this enzyme is decaprenyl diphosphate. Rv2361c has an absolute requirement for divalent cations and an optimal pH range of 7.5 to 8.5, and the activity is stimulated by both detergent and dithiothreitol. The enzyme catalyzes the addition of isopentenyl diphosphate to geranyl diphosphate, neryl diphosphate, ω,E,E-farnesyl diphosphate, ω,E,Z-farnesyl diphosphate, or ω,E,E,E-geranylgeranyl diphosphate, with Km values for the allylic substrates of 490, 29, 84, 290, and 40 μM, respectively. The Km value for isopentenyl diphosphate is 89 μM. The catalytic efficiency is greatest when ω,E,Z-farnesyl diphosphate is used as the allylic acceptor, suggesting that this is the natural substrate in vivo, a conclusion that is supported by previous structural studies of decaprenyl phosphoryl mannose isolated from M. tuberculosis. This is the first report of a bacterial Z-prenyl diphosphate synthase that preferentially utilizes an allylic diphosphate primer having the α-isoprene unit in the Z configuration, indicating that Rv1086 (ω,E,Z-farnesyl diphosphate synthase) and Rv2361c act sequentially in the biosynthetic pathway that leads to the formation of decaprenyl phosphate in M. tuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC524883  PMID: 15516568

Results 1-7 (7)