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Arch Biochem Biophys. 2011 Aug 15;512(2):154-9. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2011 Jun 7.

A tetrameric structure is not essential for activity in dihydrodipicolinate synthase (DHDPS) from Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

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Biomolecular Interaction Centre and School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.


Dihydrodipicolinate synthase (DHDPS) is a validated antibiotic target for which a new approach to inhibitor design has been proposed: disrupting native tetramer formation by targeting the dimer-dimer interface. In this study, rational design afforded a variant of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Mtb-DHDPS-A204R, with disrupted quaternary structure. X-ray crystallography (at a resolution of 2.1Å) revealed a dimeric protein with an identical fold and active-site structure to the tetrameric wild-type enzyme. Analytical ultracentrifugation confirmed the dimeric structure in solution, yet the dimeric mutant has similar activity to the wild-type enzyme. Although the affinity for both substrates was somewhat decreased, the high catalytic competency of the enzyme was surprising in the light of previous results showing that dimeric variants of the Escherichia coli and Bacillus anthracis DHDPS enzymes have dramatically reduced activity compared to their wild-type tetrameric counterparts. These results suggest that Mtb-DHDPS-A204R is similar to the natively dimeric enzyme from Staphylococcus aureus, and highlight our incomplete understanding of the role played by oligomerisation in relating protein structure and function.

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