Mariya Morar

University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Publications (14)102 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The recent classification of Glycoside Hydrolase Family 5 (GH5) members into subfamilies enhances the prediction of substrate specificity by phylogenetic analysis. However, the small number of well-characterized members is a current limitation to understanding the molecular basis of the diverse specificity observed across individual GH5 subfamilies. GH5 Subfamily 4 (GH5_4) is one of the largest, with known activities comprising (carboxymethyl)cellulases, mixed-linkage endo-glucanases, and endo-xyloglucanases. Through detailed structure-function analysis, we have revisited the characterization of a classic GH5_4 carboxymethylcellulase, PbGH5A (also known as Orf4, CMCase, and Cel5A) from the symbiotic rumen Bacteroidetes Prevotella bryantii B14. We demonstrate that CMC and phosphoric acid-swollen cellulose (PASC) are in fact strikingly poor substrates for PbGH5A, which instead exhibits clear primary specificity for the plant storage and cell wall polysaccharide, mixed-linkage β-glucan. Significant activity toward the plant cell wall polysaccharide xyloglucan was also observed. Determination of PbGH5A crystal structures in the apo form and in complex with (xylo)glucan oligosaccharides and an active-site affinity label, together with detailed kinetic analysis using a variety of well-defined oligosaccharide substrates, revealed the structural determinants of polysaccharide substrate specificity. In particular, this analysis highlighted the PbGH5A active-site motifs which engender predominant mixed-linkage endo-glucanase activity vis-a-vis predominant endo-xyloglucanases in GH5_4. However the detailed phylogenetic analysis of GH5_4 members did not delineate particular clades of enzymes sharing these sequence motifs; the phylogeny was instead dominated by bacterial taxonomy. Nonetheless, our results provide key enzyme functional and structural reference data for future bioinformatics analyses of meta(genomes) to elucidate the biology of complex gut ecosystems.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2015 · Journal of Biological Chemistry
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    ABSTRACT: Legionella pneumophila, the intracellular pathogen that can cause severe pneumonia known as Legionnaire's disease, translocates close to 300 effectors inside the host cell using Dot/Icm type IVB secretion system. The structure and function for the majority of these effector proteins remains unknown. Here we present the crystal structure of the L. pneumophila effector Lem10. The structure reveals a multi-domain organization with the largest C-terminal domain showing strong structural similarity to the HD protein superfamily representatives. However, Lem10 lacks the catalytic His-Asp residue pair and does not show any in vitro phosphohydrolase enzymatic activity, typical for HD proteins. While the biological function of Lem10 remains elusive, our analysis shows that similar distinct features are shared by a significant number of HD domains found in Legionella proteins, including the SidE family of effectors known to play an important role during infection. Taken together our data point to the presence of a specific group of non-catalytic Legionella HD domains, dubbed LHDs, which are involved in pathogenesis. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2015 · Proteins Structure Function and Bioinformatics
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    ABSTRACT: One of the main mechanisms of resistance to lincosamide and aminoglycoside antibiotics is their inactivation by O-nucleotidylyltransferases (NTases). Significant sequence variation of lincomycin nucleotidylyltransferase (Lnu) and aminoglycoside nucleotidylyltransferase (ANT) enzymes plus lack of detailed information about the molecular basis for specificity of these enzymes toward chemically distinct antibiotic scaffolds hinders development of a general strategy to curb this resistance mechanism. We conducted an extensive sequence analysis identifying 129 putative antibiotic NTases constituting six distinct subfamilies represented by Lnu(A), (B), (C), (D), (F)/(G) plus ANT(2”) enzymes. Since only the Lnu(B) enzyme has been previously studied in detail, we biochemically characterized the Lnu(A) and Lnu(D) enzymes, with the former representing the most sequence-distinct Lnu ortholog. We also determined the crystal structure of the Lnu(A) enzyme in complex with a lincosamide. These data suggested that while sharing the N-terminal nucleotidylyltransferase domain (NTD), the groups of antibiotic NTases feature structurally distinct C-terminal domains (CTD) adapted to accommodate antibiotics. Comparative structural analysis among antibiotic NTases rationalized their specificity toward lincosamides vs. aminoglycosides through active site plasticity, which allows retention of general catalytic activity, while accepting alterations at multiple, specific positions contributed by both domains. Based on this structural analysis, we suggest that antibiotic NTases evolved from an ancestral nucleotidylyltransferase along independent paths according to the identified groups, characterized by structural changes in the active site and recruitment of structurally-diverse CTDs. These data show the complexity of enzyme-driven antibiotic resistance and provides a basis for broadly-active inhibitors by identifying the key unifying features of antibiotic NTases.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2015 · Journal of Molecular Biology
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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.
    Full-text · Article · May 2013 · Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
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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.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2012 · Biochemistry
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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.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2011 · Nature
  • 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.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2010 · Annual Review of Genetics
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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.
    Preview · Article · Dec 2009 · Structure
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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.
    Preview · Article · Sep 2008 · Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences CMLS
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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.
    Preview · Article · Aug 2008 · Biochemistry
  • Mariya Morar · Robert H White · Steven E Ealick
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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.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2007 · Biochemistry
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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.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2007 · Biochemistry
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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.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2007 · Biochemistry
  • M. Morar · R. Anand · S. E. Ealick

    No preview · Article · Aug 2005 · Acta Crystallographica Section A Foundations of Crystallography

Publication Stats

615 Citations
102.00 Total Impact Points


  • 2015
    • University of Toronto
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 2009-2015
    • McMaster University
      • • Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR)
      • • Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences
      Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  • 2007-2008
    • Cornell University
      • Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology
      Итак, New York, United States