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J Am Chem Soc. 2015 May 27;137(20):6500-5. doi: 10.1021/jacs.5b01374. Epub 2015 May 18.

The Tipper-Strominger Hypothesis and Triggering of Allostery in Penicillin-Binding Protein 2a of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556, United States.


The transpeptidases involved in the synthesis of the bacterial cell wall (also known as penicillin-binding proteins, PBPs) have evolved to bind the acyl-D-Ala-D-Ala segment of the stem peptide of the nascent peptidoglycan for the physiologically important cross-linking of the cell wall. The Tipper-Strominger hypothesis stipulates that β-lactam antibiotics mimic the acyl-D-Ala-D-Ala moiety of the stem and, thus, are recognized by the PBPs with bactericidal consequences. We document that this mimicry exists also at the allosteric site of PBP2a of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Interactions of different classes of β-lactam antibiotics, as mimics of the acyl-D-Ala-D-Ala moiety at the allosteric site, lead to a conformational change, across a distance of 60 Å to the active site. We directly visualize this change using an environmentally sensitive fluorescent probe affixed to the protein loops that frame the active site. This conformational mobility, documented in real time, allows antibiotic access to the active site of PBP2a. Furthermore, we document that this allosteric trigger enables synergy between two different β-lactam antibiotics, wherein occupancy at the allosteric site by one facilitates occupancy by a second at the transpeptidase catalytic site, thus lowering the minimal-inhibitory concentration. This synergy has important implications for the mitigation of facile emergence of resistance to these antibiotics by MRSA.

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