• Immune-responsive gene 1 protein links metabolism to immunity by catalyzing itaconic acid production.

      Michelucci, Alessandro; Cordes, Thekla; Ghelfi, Jenny; Pailot, Arnaud; Reiling, Norbert; Goldmann, Oliver; Binz, Tina; Wegner, André; Tallam, Aravind; Rausell, Antonio; et al. (2013-05-07)
      Immunoresponsive gene 1 (Irg1) is highly expressed in mammalian macrophages during inflammation, but its biological function has not yet been elucidated. Here, we identify Irg1 as the gene coding for an enzyme producing itaconic acid (also known as methylenesuccinic acid) through the decarboxylation of cis-aconitate, a tricarboxylic acid cycle intermediate. Using a gain-and-loss-of-function approach in both mouse and human immune cells, we found Irg1 expression levels correlating with the amounts of itaconic acid, a metabolite previously proposed to have an antimicrobial effect. We purified IRG1 protein and identified its cis-aconitate decarboxylating activity in an enzymatic assay. Itaconic acid is an organic compound that inhibits isocitrate lyase, the key enzyme of the glyoxylate shunt, a pathway essential for bacterial growth under specific conditions. Here we show that itaconic acid inhibits the growth of bacteria expressing isocitrate lyase, such as Salmonella enterica and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Furthermore, Irg1 gene silencing in macrophages resulted in significantly decreased intracellular itaconic acid levels as well as significantly reduced antimicrobial activity during bacterial infections. Taken together, our results demonstrate that IRG1 links cellular metabolism with immune defense by catalyzing itaconic acid production.
    • Structural insights into catalysis and inhibition of O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase from Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Crystal structures of the enzyme alpha-aminoacrylate intermediate and an enzyme-inhibitor complex.

      Schnell, Robert; Oehlmann, Wulf; Singh, Mahavir; Schneider, Gunter; Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institutet, S-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden. (2007-08-10)
      Cysteine biosynthetic genes are up-regulated in the persistent phase of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and the corresponding enzymes are therefore of interest as potential targets for novel antibacterial agents. cysK1 is one of these genes and has been annotated as coding for an O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase. Recombinant CysK1 is a pyridoxal phosphate (PLP)-dependent enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of O-acetylserine to cysteine. The crystal structure of the enzyme was determined to 1.8A resolution. CysK1 belongs to the family of fold type II PLP enzymes and is similar in structure to other O-acetylserine sulfhydrylases. We were able to trap the alpha-aminoacrylate reaction intermediate and determine its structure by cryocrystallography. Formation of the aminoacrylate complex is accompanied by a domain rotation resulting in active site closure. The aminoacrylate moiety is bound in the active site via the covalent linkage to the PLP cofactor and by hydrogen bonds of its carboxyl group to several enzyme residues. The catalytic lysine residue is positioned such that it can protonate the Calpha-carbon atom of the aminoacrylate only from the si-face, resulting in the formation of L-cysteine. CysK1 is competitively inhibited by a four-residue peptide derived from the C-terminal of serine acetyl transferase. The crystallographic analysis reveals that the peptide binds to the enzyme active site, suggesting that CysK1 forms an bi-enzyme complex with serine acetyl transferase, in a similar manner to other bacterial and plant O-acetylserine sulfhydrylases. The structure of the enzyme-peptide complex provides a framework for the design of strong binding inhibitors.
    • Three-dimensional structures of apo- and holo-L-alanine dehydrogenase from Mycobacterium tuberculosis reveal conformational changes upon coenzyme binding.

      Agren, Daniel; Stehr, Matthias; Berthold, Catrine L; Kapoor, Shobhna; Oehlmann, Wulf; Singh, Mahavir; Schneider, Gunter; Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institutet, S-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden. (2008-04-04)
      L-alanine dehydrogenase from Mycobacterium tuberculosis catalyzes the NADH-dependent reversible conversion of pyruvate and ammonia to L-alanine. Expression of the gene coding for this enzyme is up-regulated in the persistent phase of the organism, and alanine dehydrogenase is therefore a potential target for pathogen control by antibacterial compounds. We have determined the crystal structures of the apo- and holo-forms of the enzyme to 2.3 and 2.0 A resolution, respectively. The enzyme forms a hexamer of identical subunits, with the NAD-binding domains building up the core of the molecule and the substrate-binding domains located at the apical positions of the hexamer. Coenzyme binding stabilizes a closed conformation where the substrate-binding domains are rotated by about 16 degrees toward the dinucleotide-binding domains, compared to the open structure of the apo-enzyme. In the structure of the abortive ternary complex with NAD+ and pyruvate, the substrates are suitably positioned for hydride transfer between the nicotinamide ring and the C2 carbon atom of the substrate. The approach of the nucleophiles water and ammonia to pyruvate or the reaction intermediate iminopyruvate, respectively, is, however, only possible through conformational changes that make the substrate binding site more accessible. The crystal structures identified the conserved active-site residues His96 and Asp270 as potential acid/base catalysts in the reaction. Amino acid replacements of these residues by site-directed mutagenesis led to inactive mutants, further emphasizing their essential roles in the enzymatic reaction mechanism.