Biochemistry and Pharmacology - Research Publications

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    Reaction hijacking of tyrosine tRNA synthetase as a new whole-of-life-cycle antimalarial strategy
    Xie, SC ; Metcalfe, RD ; Dunn, E ; Morton, CJ ; Huang, S-C ; Puhalovich, T ; Du, Y ; Wittlin, S ; Nie, S ; Luth, MR ; Ma, L ; Kim, M-S ; Pasaje, CFA ; Kumpornsin, K ; Giannangelo, C ; Houghton, FJ ; Churchyard, A ; Famodimu, MT ; Barry, DC ; Gillett, DL ; Dey, S ; Kosasih, CC ; Newman, W ; Niles, JC ; Lee, MCS ; Baum, J ; Ottilie, S ; Winzeler, EA ; Creek, DJ ; Williamson, N ; Parker, MW ; Brand, S ; Langston, SP ; Dick, LR ; Griffin, MDW ; Gould, AE ; Tilley, L (AMER ASSOC ADVANCEMENT SCIENCE, 2022-06-03)
    Aminoacyl transfer RNA (tRNA) synthetases (aaRSs) are attractive drug targets, and we present class I and II aaRSs as previously unrecognized targets for adenosine 5'-monophosphate-mimicking nucleoside sulfamates. The target enzyme catalyzes the formation of an inhibitory amino acid-sulfamate conjugate through a reaction-hijacking mechanism. We identified adenosine 5'-sulfamate as a broad-specificity compound that hijacks a range of aaRSs and ML901 as a specific reagent a specific reagent that hijacks a single aaRS in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, namely tyrosine RS (PfYRS). ML901 exerts whole-life-cycle-killing activity with low nanomolar potency and single-dose efficacy in a mouse model of malaria. X-ray crystallographic studies of plasmodium and human YRSs reveal differential flexibility of a loop over the catalytic site that underpins differential susceptibility to reaction hijacking by ML901.
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    Glutathione transferase P1-1 as an arsenic drug-sequestering enzyme
    Parker, LJ ; Bocedi, A ; Ascher, DB ; Aitken, JB ; Harris, HH ; Lo Bello, M ; Ricci, G ; Morton, CJ ; Parker, MW (WILEY, 2017-02-01)
    Arsenic-based compounds are paradoxically both poisons and drugs. Glutathione transferase (GSTP1-1) is a major factor in resistance to such drugs. Here we describe using crystallography, X-ray absorption spectroscopy, mutagenesis, mass spectrometry, and kinetic studies how GSTP1-1 recognizes the drug phenylarsine oxide (PAO). In conditions of cellular stress where glutathione (GSH) levels are low, PAO crosslinks C47 to C101 of the opposing monomer, a distance of 19.9 Å, and causes a dramatic widening of the dimer interface by approximately 10 Å. The GSH conjugate of PAO, which forms rapidly in cancerous cells, is a potent inhibitor (Ki  = 90 nM) and binds as a di-GSH complex in the active site forming part of a continuous network of interactions from one active site to the other. In summary, GSTP1-1 can detoxify arsenic-based drugs by sequestration at the active site and at the dimer interface, in situations where there is a plentiful supply of GSH, and at the reactive cysteines in conditions of low GSH.
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    The structure of the extracellular domains of human interleukin 11? receptor reveals mechanisms of cytokine engagement
    Metcalfe, RD ; Aizel, K ; Zlatic, CO ; Nguyen, PM ; Morton, CJ ; Lio, DS-S ; Cheng, H-C ; Dobson, RCJ ; Parker, MW ; Gooley, PR ; Putoczki, TL ; Griffin, MDW (AMER SOC BIOCHEMISTRY MOLECULAR BIOLOGY INC, 2020-06-12)
    Interleukin (IL) 11 activates multiple intracellular signaling pathways by forming a complex with its cell surface α-receptor, IL-11Rα, and the β-subunit receptor, gp130. Dysregulated IL-11 signaling has been implicated in several diseases, including some cancers and fibrosis. Mutations in IL-11Rα that reduce signaling are also associated with hereditary cranial malformations. Here we present the first crystal structure of the extracellular domains of human IL-11Rα and a structure of human IL-11 that reveals previously unresolved detail. Disease-associated mutations in IL-11Rα are generally distal to putative ligand-binding sites. Molecular dynamics simulations showed that specific mutations destabilize IL-11Rα and may have indirect effects on the cytokine-binding region. We show that IL-11 and IL-11Rα form a 1:1 complex with nanomolar affinity and present a model of the complex. Our results suggest that the thermodynamic and structural mechanisms of complex formation between IL-11 and IL-11Rα differ substantially from those previously reported for similar cytokines. This work reveals key determinants of the engagement of IL-11 by IL-11Rα that may be exploited in the development of strategies to modulate formation of the IL-11-IL-11Rα complex.
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    Design of proteasome inhibitors with oral efficacy in vivo against Plasmodium falciparum and selectivity over the human proteasome
    Xie, SC ; Metcalfe, RD ; Mizutani, H ; Puhalovich, T ; Hanssen, E ; Morton, CJ ; Du, Y ; Dogovski, C ; Huang, S-C ; Ciavarri, J ; Hales, P ; Griffin, RJ ; Cohen, LH ; Chuang, B-C ; Wittlin, S ; Deni, I ; Yeo, T ; Ward, KE ; Barry, DC ; Liu, B ; Gillett, DL ; Crespo-Fernandez, BF ; Ottilie, S ; Mittal, N ; Churchyard, A ; Ferguson, D ; Aguiar, ACC ; Guido, RVC ; Baum, J ; Hanson, KK ; Winzeler, EA ; Gamo, F-J ; Fidock, DA ; Baud, D ; Parker, MW ; Brand, S ; Dick, LR ; Griffin, MDW ; Gould, AE ; Tilley, L (NATL ACAD SCIENCES, 2021-09-28)
    The Plasmodium falciparum proteasome is a potential antimalarial drug target. We have identified a series of amino-amide boronates that are potent and specific inhibitors of the P. falciparum 20S proteasome (Pf20S) β5 active site and that exhibit fast-acting antimalarial activity. They selectively inhibit the growth of P. falciparum compared with a human cell line and exhibit high potency against field isolates of P. falciparum and Plasmodium vivax They have a low propensity for development of resistance and possess liver stage and transmission-blocking activity. Exemplar compounds, MPI-5 and MPI-13, show potent activity against P. falciparum infections in a SCID mouse model with an oral dosing regimen that is well tolerated. We show that MPI-5 binds more strongly to Pf20S than to human constitutive 20S (Hs20Sc). Comparison of the cryo-electron microscopy (EM) structures of Pf20S and Hs20Sc in complex with MPI-5 and Pf20S in complex with the clinically used anti-cancer agent, bortezomib, reveal differences in binding modes that help to explain the selectivity. Together, this work provides insights into the 20S proteasome in P. falciparum, underpinning the design of potent and selective antimalarial proteasome inhibitors.
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    Bridging Crystal Engineering and Drug Discovery by Utilizing Intermolecular Interactions and Molecular Shapes in Crystals
    Spackman, PR ; Yu, L-J ; Morton, CJ ; Parker, MW ; Bond, CS ; Spackman, MA ; Jayatilaka, D ; Thomas, SP (WILEY-V C H VERLAG GMBH, 2019-08-19)
    Most structure-based drug discovery methods utilize crystal structures of receptor proteins. Crystal engineering, on the other hand, utilizes the wealth of chemical information inherent in small-molecule crystal structures in the Cambridge Structural Database (CSD). We show that the interaction surfaces and shapes of molecules in experimentally determined small-molecule crystal structures can serve as effective tools in drug discovery. Our description of the shape and interaction propensities of molecules in their crystal structures can be used to screen them for specific binding compatibility with protein targets, as demonstrated through the high-throughput profiling of around 138 000 small-molecule structures in the CSD and a series of drug-protein crystal structures. Electron-density-based intermolecular boundary surfaces in small-molecule crystal structures and in target-protein pockets are utilized to identify potential ligand molecules from the CSD based on 3D shape and intermolecular interaction matching.
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    Bridging Crystal Engineering and Drug Discovery by Utilizing Intermolecular Interactions and Molecular Shapes in Crystals
    Spackman, PR ; Yu, LJ ; Bond, CS ; Spackman, MA ; Jayatilaka, D ; Thomas, SP ; Yu, LJ ; Morton, CJ ; Parker, MW ; Parker, MW ; Thomas, SP (Wiley, 2019-01-01)
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    Copper binding to the Alzheimer's disease amyloid precursor protein
    Kong, GK-W ; Miles, LA ; Crespi, GAN ; Morton, CJ ; Ng, HL ; Barnham, KJ ; McKinstry, WJ ; Cappai, R ; Parker, MW (SPRINGER, 2008-03-01)
    Alzheimer's disease is the fourth biggest killer in developed countries. Amyloid precursor protein (APP) plays a central role in the development of the disease, through the generation of a peptide called A beta by proteolysis of the precursor protein. APP can function as a metalloprotein and modulate copper transport via its extracellular copper binding domain (CuBD). Copper binding to this domain has been shown to reduce A beta levels and hence a molecular understanding of the interaction between metal and protein could lead to the development of novel therapeutics to treat the disease. We have recently determined the three-dimensional structures of apo and copper bound forms of CuBD. The structures provide a mechanism by which CuBD could readily transfer copper ions to other proteins. Importantly, the lack of significant conformational changes to CuBD on copper binding suggests a model in which copper binding affects the dimerisation state of APP leading to reduction in A beta production. We thus predict that disruption of APP dimers may be a novel therapeutic approach to treat Alzheimer's disease.
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    A Key Motif in the Cholesterol-Dependent Cytolysins Reveals a Large Family of Related Proteins
    Evans, JC ; Johnstone, BA ; Lawrence, SL ; Morton, CJ ; Christie, MP ; Parker, MW ; Tweten, RK ; McClane, BA (AMER SOC MICROBIOLOGY, 2020-09-01)
    The cholesterol-dependent cytolysins (CDCs) are bacterial, β-barrel, pore-forming toxins. A central enigma of the pore-forming mechanism is how completion of the prepore is sensed to initiate its conversion to the pore. We identified a motif that is conserved between the CDCs and a diverse family of nearly 300 uncharacterized proteins present in over 220 species that span at least 10 bacterial and 2 eukaryotic phyla. Except for this motif, these proteins exhibit little similarity to the CDCs at the primary structure level. Studies herein show this motif is a critical component of the sensor that initiates the prepore-to-pore transition in the CDCs. We further show by crystallography, single particle analysis, and biochemical studies of one of these CDC-like (CDCL) proteins from Elizabethkingia anophelis, a commensal of the malarial mosquito midgut, that a high degree of structural similarity exists between the CDC and CDCL monomer structures and both form large oligomeric pore complexes. Furthermore, the conserved motif in the E. anophelis CDCL crystal structure occupies a nearly identical position and makes similar contacts to those observed in the structure of the archetype CDC, perfringolysin O (PFO). This suggests a common function in the CDCs and CDCLs and may explain why only this motif is conserved in the CDCLs. Hence, these studies identify a critical component of the sensor involved in initiating the prepore-to-pore transition in the CDCs, which is conserved in a large and diverse group of distant relatives of the CDCs.IMPORTANCE The cholesterol-dependent cytolysins' pore-forming mechanism relies on the ability to sense the completion of the oligomeric prepore structure and initiate the insertion of the β-barrel pore from the assembled prepore structure. These studies show that a conserved motif is an important component of the sensor that triggers the prepore-to-pore transition and that it is conserved in a large family of previously unidentified CDC-like proteins, the genes for which are present in a vast array of microbial species that span most terrestrial environments, as well as most animal and human microbiomes. These studies establish the foundation for future investigations that will probe the contribution of this large family of CDC-like proteins to microbial survival and human disease.
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    An Intermolecular pi-Stacking Interaction Drives Conformational Changes Necessary to beta-Barrel Formation in a Pore-Forming Toxin
    Burns, JR ; Morton, CJ ; Parker, MW ; Tweten, RK ; McClane, BA (AMER SOC MICROBIOLOGY, 2019-07-01)
    The crystal structures of the soluble monomers of the pore-forming cholesterol-dependent cytolysins (CDCs) contain two α-helical bundles that flank a twisted core β-sheet. This protein fold is the hallmark of the CDCs, as well as of the membrane attack complex/perforin immune defense proteins and the stonefish toxins. To form the β-barrel pore, a core β-sheet is flattened to align the membrane-spanning β-hairpins. Concomitantly with this conformational change, the two α-helical bundles that flank the core β-sheet break their restraining contacts and refold into two membrane-spanning β-hairpins of the β-barrel pore. The studies herein show that in the monomer structure of the archetype CDC perfringolysin O (PFO), a conserved Met-Met-Phe triad simultaneously contributes to maintaining the twist in this core β-sheet, as well as restricting the α-helical-to-β-strand transition necessary to form one of two membrane-spanning β-hairpins. A previously identified intermolecular π-stacking interaction is now shown to disrupt the interactions mediated by this conserved triad. This is required to establish the subsequent intermolecular electrostatic interaction, which has previously been shown to drive the final conformational changes necessary to form the β-barrel pore. Hence, these studies show that the intermolecular π-stacking and electrostatic interactions work in tandem to flatten the core β-sheet and initiate the α-helical-to-β-strand transitions to form the β-barrel pore.IMPORTANCE A unique feature of the CDC/MACPF/SNTX (cholesterol-dependent cytolysin/membrane attack complex perforin/stonefish toxin) superfamily of pore-forming toxins is that the β-strands that comprise the β-barrel pore are derived from a pair of α-helical bundles. These studies reveal the molecular basis by which the formation of intermolecular interactions within the prepore complex drive the disruption of intramolecular interactions within each monomer of the prepore to trigger the α-helical-to-β-strand transition and formation of the β-barrel pore.
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    A structure-based mechanism of cisplatin resistance mediated by glutathione transferase P1-1
    De Luca, A ; Parker, LJ ; Ang, WH ; Rodolfo, C ; Gabbarini, V ; Hancock, NC ; Palone, F ; Mazzetti, AP ; Menin, L ; Morton, CJ ; Parker, MW ; Lo Bello, M ; Dyson, PJ (NATL ACAD SCIENCES, 2019-07-09)
    Cisplatin [cis-diamminedichloroplatinum(II) (cis-DDP)] is one of the most successful anticancer agents effective against a wide range of solid tumors. However, its use is restricted by side effects and/or by intrinsic or acquired drug resistance. Here, we probed the role of glutathione transferase (GST) P1-1, an antiapoptotic protein often overexpressed in drug-resistant tumors, as a cis-DDP-binding protein. Our results show that cis-DDP is not a substrate for the glutathione (GSH) transferase activity of GST P1-1. Instead, GST P1-1 sequesters and inactivates cisplatin with the aid of 2 solvent-accessible cysteines, resulting in protein subunits cross-linking, while maintaining its GSH-conjugation activity. Furthermore, it is well known that GST P1-1 binding to the c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) inhibits JNK phosphorylation, which is required for downstream apoptosis signaling. Thus, in turn, GST P1-1 overexpression and Pt-induced subunit cross-linking could modulate JNK apoptotic signaling, further confirming the role of GST P1-1 as an antiapoptotic protein.