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2.  The crystal structure of Leishmania major N5,N10-methylenetetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase/cyclohydrolase and assessment of a potential drug target☆ 
Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology  2012;181(2-6):178-185.
Graphical abstract
The crystal structure of Leishmania major N5,N10-methylenetetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase/N5,N10-methenyltetrahydrofolate cyclohydrolase is used to assess the potential of this bifunctional enzyme as a drug target.
► We report the structure of Leishmania major methylenetetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase/cyclohydrolase. ► Sequence–structure comparisons are carried out with homologues from kinetoplastids and the human host. ► The potential of this bifunctional enzyme as a drug target is assessed. ► The similarities between parasite and human enzymes suggest a difficult target for drug discovery.
Three enzyme activities in the protozoan Leishmania major, namely N5,N10-methylenetetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase/N5,N10-methenyltetrahydrofolate cyclohydrolase (DHCH) and N10-formyltetrahydrofolate ligase (FTL) produce the essential intermediate N10-formyltetrahydrofolate. Although trypanosomatids possess at least one functional DHCH, the same is not true for FTL, which is absent in Trypanosoma brucei. Here, we present the 2.7 Å resolution crystal structure of the bifunctional apo-DHCH from L. major, which is a potential drug target. Sequence alignments show that the cytosolic enzymes found in trypanosomatids share a high level of identity of approximately 60%. Additionally, residues that interact and participate in catalysis in the human homologue are conserved amongst trypanosomatid sequences and this may complicate attempts to derive potent, parasite specific DHCH inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3368264  PMID: 22108435
Antifolate; Cyclohydrolase; Dehydrogenase; Drug target; Leishmania; Trypanosoma
3.  Structure of Staphylococcus aureus adenylo­succinate lyase (PurB) and assessment of its potential as a target for structure-based inhibitor discovery 
The 2.5 Å resolution structure of S. aureus adenylosuccinate lyase is reported and compared with those of orthologues to assess its potential as a template for early stage drug discovery. AMP and a putative assignment of oxalate, the latter an artefact possibly arising from an impurity in the PEG used for crystallization, occupy the active site.
The medium-resolution structure of adenylosuccinate lyase (PurB) from the bacterial pathogen Staphylococcus aureus in complex with AMP is presented. Oxalate, which is likely to be an artifact of crystallization, has been modelled in the active site and occupies a position close to that where succinate is observed in orthologous structures. PurB catalyzes reactions that support the provision of purines and the control of AMP/fumarate levels. As such, the enzyme is predicted to be essential for the survival of S. aureus and to be a potential therapeutic target. Comparisons of this pathogen PurB with the enzyme from Escherichia coli are presented to allow discussion concerning the enzyme mechanism. Comparisons with human PurB suggest that the close similarity of the active sites would make it difficult to identify species-specific inhibitors for this enyme. However, there are differences in the way that the subunits are assembled into dimers. The distinct subunit–subunit interfaces may provide a potential area to target by exploiting the observation that creation of the enzyme active site is dependent on oligomerization.
PMCID: PMC2917274  PMID: 20693687
adenylosuccinate lyase; AMP; oxalate; purine biosynthesis; purine cycle
4.  Geobacillus stearothermophilus 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase complexed with 6-phosphogluconate 
The structure of 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase from a moderate thermophile, G. stearothermophilus, is presented and compared with those of orthologous enzymes.
Two crystal structures of recombinant Geobacillus stearothermophilus 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase (Gs6PDH) in complex with the substrate 6-­phosphogluconate have been determined at medium resolution. Gs6PDH shares significant sequence identity and structural similarity with the enzymes from Lactococcus lactis, sheep liver and the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma brucei, for which a range of structures have previously been reported. Comparisons indicate that amino-acid sequence conservation is more pronounced in the two domains that contribute to the architecture of the active site, namely the N-terminal and C-terminal domains, compared with the central domain, which is primarily involved in the subunit–subunit associations required to form a stable dimer. The active-site residues are highly conserved, as are the interactions with the 6-phosphogluconate. There is interest in 6PDH as a potential drug target for the protozoan parasite T. brucei, the pathogen responsible for African sleeping sickness. The recombinant T. brucei enzyme has proven to be recalcitrant to enzyme–ligand studies and a surrogate protein might offer new opportunities to investigate and characterize 6PDH inhibitors. The high degree of structural similarity, efficient level of expression and straightforward crystallization conditions mean that Gs6PDH may prove to be an appropriate model system for structure-based inhibitor design targeting the enzyme from Trypanosoma species.
PMCID: PMC2675582  PMID: 19407374
pentose phosphate pathway; 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase; Geobacillus stearothermophilus
5.  TarO: a target optimisation system for structural biology 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;36(Web Server issue):W190-W196.
TarO ( offers a single point of reference for key bioinformatics analyses relevant to selecting proteins or domains for study by structural biology techniques. The protein sequence is analysed by 17 algorithms and compared to 8 databases. TarO gathers putative homologues, including orthologues, and then obtains predictions of properties for these sequences including crystallisation propensity, protein disorder and post-translational modifications. Analyses are run on a high-performance computing cluster, the results integrated, stored in a database and accessed through a web-based user interface. Output is in tabulated format and in the form of an annotated multiple sequence alignment (MSA) that may be edited interactively in the program Jalview. TarO also simplifies the gathering of additional annotations via the Distributed Annotation System, both from the MSA in Jalview and through links to Dasty2. Routes to other information gateways are included, for example to relevant pages from UniProt, COG and the Conserved Domains Database. Open access to TarO is available from a guest account with private accounts for academic use available on request. Future development of TarO will include further analysis steps and integration with the Protein Information Management System (PIMS), a sister project in the BBSRC ‘Structural Proteomics of Rational Targets’ initiative
PMCID: PMC2447720  PMID: 18385152
6.  Initiating a crystallographic analysis of recombinant (S)-2-hydroxypropylphosphonic acid epoxidase from Streptomyces wedmorensis  
The gene encoding the unusual metal-ion-dependent epoxidase involved in fosfomycin biosynthesis, S. wedmorensis (S)-2-hydroxypropylphosphonic acid epoxidase, has been cloned and the protein expressed, purified and crystallized. Two crystal forms have been obtained, one of which diffracts to high resolution.
The oxirane (1R,2S)-1,2-epoxypropylphosphonic acid (fosfomycin) is a natural product antibiotic produced in Streptomyces wedmorensis by the metal-ion-dependent (S)-2-hydroxypropylphosphonic acid epoxidase. This epoxidase is highly unusual since it has no requirement for a haem prosthetic group. The gene encoding the enzyme, fom4, has been cloned and a highly efficient recombinant source of the enzyme established. Two different crystal forms, tetragonal and hexagonal, have been obtained. The hexagonal form displays symmetry consistent with space group P61/522 and unit-cell parameters a = 86.44, c = 221.56 Å, γ = 120°. The Matthews coefficient, V M, of 2.7 Å3 Da−1 corresponds to two subunits, each of approximate weight 21.4 kDa, in the asymmetric unit with 55% solvent content. These crystals diffract to high resolution and experimental phases are being sought to determine the structure.
PMCID: PMC1952317  PMID: 16511089
antibiotics; epoxidases; metalloenzymes; Streptomyces
7.  ELM server: a new resource for investigating short functional sites in modular eukaryotic proteins 
Nucleic Acids Research  2003;31(13):3625-3630.
Multidomain proteins predominate in eukaryotic proteomes. Individual functions assigned to different sequence segments combine to create a complex function for the whole protein. While on-line resources are available for revealing globular domains in sequences, there has hitherto been no comprehensive collection of small functional sites/motifs comparable to the globular domain resources, yet these are as important for the function of multidomain proteins. Short linear peptide motifs are used for cell compartment targeting, protein–protein interaction, regulation by phosphorylation, acetylation, glycosylation and a host of other post-translational modifications. ELM, the Eukaryotic Linear Motif server at, is a new bioinformatics resource for investigating candidate short non-globular functional motifs in eukaryotic proteins, aiming to fill the void in bioinformatics tools. Sequence comparisons with short motifs are difficult to evaluate because the usual significance assessments are inappropriate. Therefore the server is implemented with several logical filters to eliminate false positives. Current filters are for cell compartment, globular domain clash and taxonomic range. In favourable cases, the filters can reduce the number of retained matches by an order of magnitude or more.
PMCID: PMC168952  PMID: 12824381

Results 1-7 (7)