Studies on the inhibitor selectivity and inhibitory signal transfer of a-Isopropylmalate synthase
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
α-Isopropylmalate synthase (α-IPMS) is responsible for catalysing the first committed step in leucine biosynthesis. This pathway is found in plants and microorganisms, including pathogenic bacteria such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Neisseria meningitidis. α-IPMS catalyses a Claisen condensation reaction between α-ketoisovalerate (KIV) and acetyl coenzyme A (AcCoA) to form the product α-isopropylmalate (IPM). This enzyme undergoes feedback inhibition by the end product of the pathway, leucine. This regulation allows the control of the rate leucine biosynthesis. This project focuses on the α-IPMS enzymes from M. tuberculosis and N. meningitidis (MtuIPMS and NmeIPMS). These α-IPMS enzymes are homodimeric in structure. Each monomer consists of a catalytic domain which comprises of a (β/α)8 barrel fold, two subdomains and a regulatory domain, to which the allosteric binding of the natural inhibitor leucine occurs. The mechanism by which the allosteric binding of leucine leads to a decrease in enzymatic activity is not yet fully understood. Citramalate synthase (CMS) is responsible for catalysing the first committed step of threonine-independent isoleucine biosynthesis. This enzyme is extremely similar to α-IPMS in both the reaction which it catalyses and the catalytic and regulatory domain structure. CMS catalyses a Claisen condensation reaction between pyruvate and AcCoA to produce citramalate (CM). CMS is also feedback inhibited by the end product of its pathway, isoleucine. The similarity between α-IPMS and CMS enzymes resulted in and examination of the inhibitor selectivity of MtuIPMS. Amino acids in the leucine binding site were altered to their counterparts in the isoleucine binding site of the CMS enzyme to see if the selectivity of the leucine binding site could be interchanged. Results from this study show that it is possible to change inhibitor selectivity with a single amino acid substitution. However, changing the selectivity from leucine to isoleucine was unsuccessful. Instead, one of the MtuIPMS variants displayed significantly increased sensitivity to an alternative amino acid, norvaline. The MtuIPMS variants were expressed and purified using immobilised metal affinity chromatography and size-exclusion chromatography. These variants were then kinetically characterised and displayed similar binding affinities and turnover rates for the natural substrates to the wild-type enzyme. As expected changes to the leucine binding pocket had drastic effects on the sensitivity of the enzyme to its natural inhibitor. This work is described in Chapter 2 of this thesis. The mechanism by which the regulatory signal is transferred from the allosteric leucine binding site to the catalytic site in α-IPMS is not fully understood. NmeIPMS variants were created based on preliminary molecular dynamic simulations which indicated that significant changes in residue contacts were associated with leucine binding. Chapter 3 describes studies that explore the effect of single amino acid substitutions of NmeIPMS. The NmeIPMS variants were expressed and purified similarly to MtuIPMS, using immobilised metal affinity chromatography and size-exclusion chromatography. Variants were subsequently characterised via mass spectrometry, differential scanning fluorimetry and kinetic assays. It was found that each variant generated retained sensitivity to leucine but displayed significant differences in the catalytic efficiencies with AcCoA. One of the generated variants also displayed a significant increase in thermal stability. Results are drawn together in Chapter 4 along with future directions of this research. This chapter details knowledge gained into protein structure and allosteric mechanisms in this thesis.