X-ray, neutron and NMR studies of the catalytic mechanism of aspartic proteinases

School of Biological Sciences, University of Southampton, Bassett Crescent East, Southampton, SO16 7PX, England.
European Biophysics Journal (Impact Factor: 2.22). 10/2006; 35(7):559-66. DOI: 10.1007/s00249-006-0065-7
Source: PubMed


Current proposals for the catalytic mechanism of aspartic proteinases are largely based on X-ray structures of bound oligopeptide inhibitors possessing non-hydrolysable analogues of the scissile peptide bond. Until recent years, the positions of protons on the catalytic aspartates and the ligand in these complexes had not been determined with certainty due to the inadequate resolution of these analyses. There has been much interest in locating the catalytic protons at the active site of aspartic proteinases since this has major implications for detailed understanding of the mechanism of action and the design of improved transition state mimics for therapeutic applications. In this review we discuss the results of studies which have shed light on the locations of protons at the catalytic centre. The first direct determination of the proton positions stemmed from neutron diffraction data collected from crystals of the fungal aspartic proteinase endothiapepsin bound to a transition state analogue (H261). The neutron structure of the complex at a resolution of 2.1 A provided evidence that Asp 215 is protonated and that Asp 32 is the negatively charged residue in the transition state complex. Atomic resolution X-ray studies of inhibitor complexes have corroborated this finding. A similar study of the native enzyme established that it, unexpectedly, has a dipeptide bound at the catalytic site which is consistent with classical reports of inhibition by short peptides and the ability of pepsins to catalyse transpeptidation reactions. Studies by NMR have confirmed the findings of low-barrier and single-well hydrogen bonds in the complexes with transition state analogues.

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Available from: Raj Gill, Oct 09, 2015
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    • "That is, in the crystal structure, the two Asp dyad protonation states shown schematically in (Fig. 6) are equally populated. Overall, the work described above has provided the first structural evidence that low-barrier hydrogen bonds may be significant in the catalytically driven reaction pathway in aspartic proteases and has helped to locate the LBHB interactions in the catalytic centre , thus giving a sounder footing for evaluating their role in the mechanism [30]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Aspartic proteases (AP) are a family of important hydrolytic enzymes in medicinal chemistry, since many of its members have become therapeutical targets for a wide variety of diseases from AIDS to Alzheimer. The enzymatic activity of these proteins is driven by the Asp dyad, a pair of active site residues Asp residues that participate in the catalysis based hydrolysis of peptides. Hence, the protonation state of these and other acidic residues present in these enzymes determines the catalytic rate and the affinity for an inhibitor at a given pH. In the present work we have reviewed the effect of the protonation states of the titratable residues in AP's both on catalysis and inhibition in this family of enzymes. The first section focuses on the details of the catalytic reaction mechanism picture brought about by a large number of kinetic, crystallographic and computational chemistry analysis. The results indicate that although the mechanism is similar in both retroviral and eukaryotic enzymes, there are some clear differences. For instance, while in the former family branch the binding of the substrate induces a mono-ionic charge state for the Asp dyad, this charge state seems to be already present in the unbound state of the eukaryotic enzymes. In this section we have explored as well the possible existence of low barrier hydrogen bonds (LBHB's) in the enzymatic path. Catalytic rate enhancement in APs could be explained in part by the lowering of the barrier for proton transfer in a hydrogen bond from donor to acceptor, which is a typical feature of LBHB's. Review of the published work indicates that the experimental support for this type of bonds is rather scarce and it may be more probable in the first stages of the hydrolytic mechanism in retroviral proteases. The second section deals with the effect of active site protonation state on inhibitor binding. The design of highly potent AP inhibitors, that could be the basis for drug leads require a deep knowledge of the protonation state of the active site residues induced by their presence. This vital issue has been tackled by experimental techniques like NMR, X-ray crystallography, calorimetric and binding kinetic techniques. Recently, we have developed a protocol that combines monitoring the pH effect on binding affinities by SPR methods and rationalization of the results by molecular mechanics based calculations. We have used this combined method on BACE-1 and HIV-1 PR, two important therapeutic targets. Our calculations are able to reproduce the inhibitor binding trends to either enzyme upon a pH increase. The results indicate that inhibitors that differ in the Asp dyad binding fragments will present different binding affinity trends upon a pH increase. Our calculations have enabled us to predict the protonation states at different pH values that underlie the above mentioned trends. We have found out that these results have many implications not only for in silico hit screening campaigns aimed at finding high affinity binders, but also (in the case of BACE-1) for the discovery of cell active compounds.
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    ABSTRACT: Cells of Candida albicans (C. albicans ) can invade hu- mans and may lead to mucosal and skin infections or to deep-seated mycoses of almost all inner organs, especially in immunocompromised patients. In this context, both the host immune status and the ability of C. albicans to modulate the expression of its virulence factors are relevant aspects that drive the candidal susceptibility or resistance; in this last case, culminat- ing in the establishment of successful infection known as candidiasis. C. albicans possesses a potent arma- mentarium consisting of several virulence molecules that help the fungal cells to escape of the host immune responses. There is no doubt that the secretion of aspartyl-type proteases, designated as Saps, are one of the major virulence attributes produced by C. albicans cells, since these hydrolytic enzymes participate in a wide range of fungal physiological processes as well as in different facets of the fungal-host interactions. For these reasons, Saps clearly hold promise as new potential drug targets. Corroborating this hypothesis, the introduction of new anti-human immunodeficiency virus drugs of the aspartyl protease inhibitor-type (HIV PIs) have emerged as new agents for the inhibition of Saps. The introduction of HIV PIs has revolutionized the treatment of HIV disease, reducing opportunistic infections, especially candidiasis. The attenuation of candidal infections in HIV-infected individuals might not solely have resulted from improved immunologi- cal status, but also as a result of direct inhibition of C. albicans Saps. In this article, we review updates on the beneficial effects of HIV PIs against the human fungal pathogen C. albicans , focusing on the effects of these compounds on Sap activity, growth behavior, morphological architecture, cellular differentiation, fungal adhesion to animal cells and abiotic materials, modulation of virulence factors, experimental candidia- sis infection, and their synergistic actions with classical antifungal agents.
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    ABSTRACT: Z-Ala-Ala-Phe-glyoxal (where Z is benzyloxycarbonyl) has been shown to be a competitive inhibitor of pepsin with a Ki = 89 +/- 24 nM at pH 2.0 and 25 degrees C. Both the ketone carbon (R13COCHO) and the aldehyde carbon (RCO13CHO) of the glyoxal group of Z-Ala-Ala-Phe-glyoxal have been 13C-enriched. Using 13C NMR, it has been shown that when the inhibitor is bound to pepsin, the glyoxal keto and aldehyde carbons give signals at 98.8 and 90.9 ppm, respectively. This demonstrates that pepsin binds and preferentially stabilizes the fully hydrated form of the glyoxal inhibitor Z-Ala-Ala-Phe-glyoxal. From 13C NMR pH studies with glyoxal inhibitor, we obtain no evidence for its hemiketal or hemiacetal hydroxyl groups ionizing to give oxyanions. We conclude that if an oxyanion is formed its pKa must be >8.0. Using 1H NMR, we observe four hydrogen bonds in free pepsin and in pepsin/Z-Ala-Ala-Phe-glyoxal complexes. In the pepsin/pepstatin complex an additional hydrogen bond is formed. We examine the effect of pH on hydrogen bond formation, but we do not find any evidence for low-barrier hydrogen bond formation in the inhibitor complexes. We conclude that the primary role of hydrogen bonding to catalytic tetrahedral intermediates in the aspartyl proteases is to correctly orientate the tetrahedral intermediate for catalysis.
    Biochemistry 10/2007; 46(39):11205-15. DOI:10.1021/bi701000k · 3.02 Impact Factor
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