Mariya Morar

McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

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Publications (11)96.09 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The field of antibiotic drug discovery and the monitoring of new antibiotic resistance elements have yet to fully exploit the power of the genome revolution. Despite the fact that the first genomes sequenced of free living organisms were those of bacteria, there have been few specialized bioinformatic tools developed to mine the growing amount of genomic data associated with pathogens. In particular, there are few tools to study the genetics and genomics of antibiotic resistance and how it impacts bacterial populations, ecology and the clinic. We have initiated development of such tools in the form of the Comprehensive Antibiotic Research Database (CARD, The CARD integrates disparate molecular and sequence data, provides a unique organizing principle in the form of the Antibiotic Resistance Ontology (ARO), and can quickly identify putative antibiotic resistance genes in new unannotated genome sequences. This unique platform provides an informatic tool that bridges antibiotic resistance concerns in health care, agriculture and the environment.
    Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 05/2013; DOI:10.1128/AAC.00419-13 · 4.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Macrolide antibiotics such as azithromycin and erythromycin are mainstays of modern antibacterial chemotherapy, and like all antibiotics, they are vulnerable to resistance. One mechanism of macrolide resistance is via drug inactivation: enzymatic hydrolysis of the macrolactone ring catalyzed by erythromycin esterases, EreA and EreB. A genomic enzymology approach was taken to gain insight into the catalytic mechanisms and origins of Ere enzymes. Our analysis reveals that erythromycin esterases comprise a separate group in the hydrolase superfamily, which includes homologues of uncharacterized function found on the chromosome of Bacillus cereus, Bcr135 and Bcr136, whose three-dimensional structures have been determined. Biochemical characterization of Bcr136 confirms that it is an esterase that is, however, unable to inactivate macrolides. Using steady-state kinetics, homology-based structure modeling, site-directed mutagenesis, solvent isotope effect studies, pH, and inhibitor profiling performed in various combinations for EreA, EreB, and Bcr136 enzymes, we identified the active site and gained insight into some catalytic features of this novel enzyme superfamily. We rule out the possibility of a Ser/Thr nucleophile and show that one histidine, H46 (EreB numbering), is essential for catalytic function. This residue is proposed to serve as a general base in activation of a water molecule as the reaction nucleophile. Furthermore, we show that EreA, EreB, and Bcr136 are distinct, with only EreA inhibited by chelating agents and hypothesized to contain a noncatalytic metal. Detailed characterization of these esterases allows for a direct comparison of the resistance determinants, EreA and EreB, with their prototype, Bcr136, and for the discussion of their potential connections.
    Biochemistry 02/2012; 51(8):1740-51. DOI:10.1021/bi201790u · 3.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The discovery of antibiotics more than 70 years ago initiated a period of drug innovation and implementation in human and animal health and agriculture. These discoveries were tempered in all cases by the emergence of resistant microbes. This history has been interpreted to mean that antibiotic resistance in pathogenic bacteria is a modern phenomenon; this view is reinforced by the fact that collections of microbes that predate the antibiotic era are highly susceptible to antibiotics. Here we report targeted metagenomic analyses of rigorously authenticated ancient DNA from 30,000-year-old Beringian permafrost sediments and the identification of a highly diverse collection of genes encoding resistance to β-lactam, tetracycline and glycopeptide antibiotics. Structure and function studies on the complete vancomycin resistance element VanA confirmed its similarity to modern variants. These results show conclusively that antibiotic resistance is a natural phenomenon that predates the modern selective pressure of clinical antibiotic use.
    Nature 08/2011; 477(7365):457-61. DOI:10.1038/nature10388 · 42.35 Impact Factor
  • Mariya Morar, Gerard D Wright
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    ABSTRACT: The need for new antibiotic therapies is acute and growing in large part because of the emergence of drug-resistant pathogens. A vast number of resistance determinants are, however, found in nonpathogenic micro-organisms. The resistance totality in the global microbiota is the antibiotic resistome and includes not only established resistance genes but also genes that have the potential to evolve into resistance elements. We term these proto-resistance genes and hypothesize that they share common ancestry with other functional units known as housekeeping genes. Genomic enzymology is the study of protein structure-function in light of genetic context and evolution of protein superfamilies. This concept is highly applicable to study of antibiotic resistance evolution from proto-resistance elements. In this review, we summarize some of the genomic enzymology evidence for resistance enzymes pointing to common ancestry with genes of other metabolic functions. Genomic enzymology plays a key role in understanding the origins of antibiotic resistance and aids in designing strategies for diagnosis and prevention thereof.
    Annual Review of Genetics 12/2010; 44:25-51. DOI:10.1146/annurev-genet-102209-163517 · 18.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Lincosamides make up an important class of antibiotics used against a wide range of pathogens, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Predictably, lincosamide-resistant microorganisms have emerged with antibiotic modification as one of their major resistance strategies. Inactivating enzymes LinB/A catalyze adenylylation of the drug; however, little is known about their mechanistic and structural properties. We determined two X-ray structures of LinB: ternary substrate- and binary product-bound complexes. Structural and kinetic characterization of LinB, mutagenesis, solvent isotope effect, and product inhibition studies are consistent with a mechanism involving direct in-line nucleotidyl transfer. The characterization of LinB enabled its classification as a member of a nucleotidyltransferase superfamily, along with nucleotide polymerases and aminoglycoside nucleotidyltransferases, and this relationship offers further support for the LinB mechanism. The LinB structure provides an evolutionary link to ancient nucleotide polymerases and suggests that, like protein kinases and acetyltransferases, these are proto-resistance elements from which drug resistance can evolve.
    Structure 12/2009; 17(12):1649-59. DOI:10.1016/j.str.2009.10.013 · 6.79 Impact Factor
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    Y Zhang, M Morar, S E Ealick
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    ABSTRACT: Purine biosynthesis requires ten enzymatic transformations to generate inosine monophosphate. PurF, PurD, PurL, PurM, PurC, and PurB are common to all pathways, while PurN or PurT, PurK/PurE-I or PurE-II, PurH or PurP, and PurJ or PurO catalyze the same steps in different organisms. X-ray crystal structures are available for all 15 purine biosynthetic enzymes, including 7 ATP-dependent enzymes, 2 amidotransferases and 2 tetrahydrofolate-dependent enzymes. Here we summarize the structures of the purine biosynthetic enzymes, discuss similarities and differences, and present arguments for pathway evolution. Four of the ATP-dependent enzymes belong to the ATP-grasp superfamily and 2 to the PurM superfamily. The amidotransferases are unrelated, with one utilizing an N-terminal nucleophileglutaminase and the other utilizing a triad glutaminase. Likewise the tetrahydrofolate-dependent enzymes are unrelated. Ancestral proteins may have included a broad specificity enzyme instead of PurD, PurT, PurK, PurC, and PurP, and a separate enzyme instead of PurM and PurL.
    Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences CMLS 09/2008; 65(23):3699-724. DOI:10.1007/s00018-008-8295-8 · 5.86 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In the fourth step of the purine biosynthetic pathway, formyl glycinamide ribonucleotide (FGAR) amidotransferase, also known as PurL, catalyzes the conversion of FGAR, ATP, and glutamine to formyl glycinamidine ribonucleotide (FGAM), ADP, P i, and glutamate. Two forms of PurL have been characterized, large and small. Large PurL, present in most Gram-negative bacteria and eukaryotes, consists of a single polypeptide chain and contains three major domains: the N-terminal domain, the FGAM synthetase domain, and the glutaminase domain, with a putative ammonia channel located between the active sites of the latter two. Small PurL, present in Gram-positive bacteria and archaea, is structurally homologous to the FGAM synthetase domain of large PurL, and forms a complex with two additional gene products, PurQ and PurS. The structure of the PurS dimer is homologous with the N-terminal domain of large PurL, while PurQ, whose structure has not been reported, contains the glutaminase activity. In Bacillus subtilis, the formation of the PurLQS complex is dependent on glutamine and ADP and has been demonstrated by size-exclusion chromatography. In this work, a structure of the PurLQS complex from Thermotoga maritima is described revealing a 2:1:1 stoichiometry of PurS:Q:L, respectively. The conformational changes observed in TmPurL upon complex formation elucidate the mechanism of metabolite-mediated recruitment of PurQ and PurS. The flexibility of the PurS dimer is proposed to play a role in the activation of the complex and the formation of the ammonia channel. A potential path for the ammonia channel is identified.
    Biochemistry 08/2008; 47(30):7816-30. DOI:10.1021/bi800329p · 3.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Genes responsible for the generation of 3-dehydroquinate (DHQ), an early metabolite in the established shikimic pathway of aromatic amino acid biosynthesis, are absent in most euryarchaeotes. Alternative gene products, Mj0400 and Mj1249, have been identified in Methanocaldococcus jannaschii as the enzymes involved in the synthesis of DHQ. 2-Amino-3,7-dideoxy-d-threo-hept-6-ulosonic acid (ADH) synthase, the product of the Mj0400 gene, catalyzes a transaldol reaction between 6-deoxy-5-ketofructose 1-phosphate and l-aspartate semialdehyde to yield ADH. Dehydroquinate synthase II, the product of the Mj1249 gene, then catalyzes deamination and cyclization of ADH, resulting in DHQ, which is fed into the canonical pathway. Three crystal structures of ADH synthase were determined in this work: a complex with a substrate analogue, fructose 1,6-bisphosphate, a complex with dihydroxyacetone phosphate (DHAP), thought to be a product of fructose 1-phosphate cleavage, and a native structure containing copurified ligands, modeled as DHAP and glycerol. On the basis of the structural analysis and comparison of the enzyme with related aldolases, ADH synthase is classified as a new member of the class I aldolase superfamily. The description of the active site allows for the identification and characterization of possible catalytic residues, Lys184, which is responsible for formation of the Schiff base intermediate, and Asp33 and Tyr153, which are candidates for the general acid/base catalysis.
    Biochemistry 10/2007; 46(37):10562-71. DOI:10.1021/bi700934v · 3.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: N5-Carboxyaminoimidazole ribonucleotide mutase (N5-CAIR mutase or PurE) from Escherichia coli catalyzes the reversible interconversion of N5-CAIR to carboxyaminoimidazole ribonucleotide (CAIR) with direct CO2 transfer. Site-directed mutagenesis, a pH-rate profile, DFT calculations, and X-ray crystallography together provide new insight into the mechanism of this unusual transformation. These studies suggest that a conserved, protonated histidine (His45) plays an essential role in catalysis. The importance of proton transfers is supported by DFT calculations on CAIR and N5-CAIR analogues in which the ribose 5'-phosphate is replaced with a methyl group. The calculations suggest that the nonaromatic tautomer of CAIR (isoCAIR) is only 3.1 kcal/mol higher in energy than its aromatic counterpart, implicating this species as a potential intermediate in the PurE-catalyzed reaction. A structure of wild-type PurE cocrystallized with 4-nitroaminoimidazole ribonucleotide (NO2-AIR, a CAIR analogue) and structures of H45N and H45Q PurEs soaked with CAIR have been determined and provide the first insight into the binding of an intact PurE substrate. A comparison of 19 available structures of PurE and PurE mutants in apo and nucleotide-bound forms reveals a common, buried carboxylate or CO2 binding site for CAIR and N5-CAIR in a hydrophobic pocket in which the carboxylate or CO2 interacts with backbone amides. This work has led to a mechanistic proposal in which the carboxylate orients the substrate for proton transfer from His45 to N5-CAIR to form an enzyme-bound aminoimidazole ribonucleotide (AIR) and CO2 intermediate. Subsequent movement of the aminoimidazole moiety of AIR reorients it for addition of CO2 at C4 to generate isoCAIR. His45 is now in a position to remove a C4 proton to produce CAIR.
    Biochemistry 04/2007; 46(10):2842-55. DOI:10.1021/bi602436g · 3.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Formylglycinamide ribonucleotide amidotransferase (FGAR-AT) catalyzes the ATP-dependent synthesis of formylglycinamidine ribonucleotide (FGAM) from formylglycinamide ribonucleotide (FGAR) and glutamine in the fourth step of the purine biosynthetic pathway. FGAR-AT is encoded by the purL gene. Two types of PurL have been detected. The first type, found in eukaryotes and Gram-negative bacteria, consists of a single 140 kDa polypeptide chain and is designated large PurL (lgPurL). The second type, small PurL (smPurL), is found in archaea and Gram-positive bacteria and consists of an 80 kDa polypeptide chain. SmPurL requires two additional gene products, PurQ and PurS, for activity. PurL is a member of a protein superfamily that contains a novel ATP-binding domain. Structures of several members of this superfamily are available in the unliganded form. We determined five different structures of FGAR-AT from Thermotoga maritima in the presence of substrates, a substrate analogue, and a product. These complexes have allowed a detailed description of the novel ATP-binding motif. The availability of a ternary complex enabled mapping of the active site, thus identifying potential residues involved in catalysis. The complexes show a conformational change in the active site compared to the unliganded structure. Surprising discoveries, an ATP molecule in an auxiliary site of the protein and the conformational changes associated with its binding, provoke speculation about the regulatory role of the auxiliary site in formation of the PurLSQ complex as well as the evolutionary relationship of PurLs from different organisms.
    Biochemistry 01/2007; 45(50):14880-95. DOI:10.1021/bi061591u · 3.19 Impact Factor
  • M. Morar, R. Anand, S. E. Ealick
    Acta Crystallographica Section A Foundations of Crystallography 08/2005; 61. DOI:10.1107/S0108767305091300 · 2.07 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

371 Citations
96.09 Total Impact Points


  • 2009–2013
    • McMaster University
      • • Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences
      • • Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR)
      Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  • 2007–2008
    • Cornell University
      • Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology
      Ithaca, New York, United States