Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Coenzyme rare to bacteria critical to Mycobacterium tuberculosis survival

25.03.2009
Coenzyme F420, a small molecule that helps certain enzymes transfer electrons, is found in microorganisms known as methane-producing archaea, some of which thrive in extreme environments.

It also helps the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB) to survive the defenses of the human immune system. Scientists have now discovered at least one way F420 helps to arm the pathogen.

The research will appear in the early online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) during the week of March 23, 2009, in the article, "Conversion of NO2 to NO by Reduced Coenzyme F420 Protects Mycobacteria from Nitrosative Damage," by Endang Purwantini and Biswarup Mukhopadhyay, both with the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) at Virginia Tech.

Mukhopadhyay's lab specializes in the study of the anaerobic archaea, especially those that produce methane, and has a program on enzymes that utilize coenzyme F420.

Coenzyme F420 is rare in bacteria. Only the Actinobacteria, a group of aerobic microorganisms, contain F420. They include the mycobacteria, which generally live in the soil, except for Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), which causes TB.

In 1996, Purwantini as a graduate student in the laboratory of Lacy Daniels, then at the University of Iowa, discovered an enzyme that reduces F420 by adding two electrons and one proton to it, producing F420H2. This discovery raised the question, "What is the use of F420H2 in a mycobacterial cell?"

In 2000, the PathoGenesis Corporation developed a new anti-TB drug called PA-824 that is converted into an active form within the Mtb cells. Further research by others showed that this conversion requires F420H2. "But that would hardly seem to be why the bacterium makes F420H2," said Mukhopadhyay, assistant professor with VBI and adjunct assistant professor in the Departments of Biochemistry and Biological Sciences. "The organism must have a use for F420H2 that is advantageous to itself."

To find clues to how mycobacteria use F420H2, Purwantini, by this time a senior scientist at VBI, considered the battle between the human immune system and Mtb. Immune cells called macrophages engulf Mtb cells and bombard the pathogen with oxidizing compounds, such as hydrogen peroxide, superoxide, and nitric oxide (NO). In addition, macrophages convert NO into more deadly nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Mtb can withstand these attacks. Based on earlier research by others, there were indications that F420 is in some way responsible for this resilience of the Mtb.

Purwantini focused on the defense of Mtb against NO2 and found that F420H2 reacts with NO2, converting it into much less harmful NO. Purwantini and Mukhopadhyay theorized the following possibility: As a macrophage generates NO and then converts it to NO2, Mtb responds by converting NO2 back to the less toxic NO by using F420H2, buying time until the macrophage dies. Mtb then becomes dormant within the dead macrophage, lurking at the heart of the immune system until the system has a weak moment – perhaps as a result of HIV or poor nutrition.

To support this hypothesis, they conducted tests with Mycobacterium smegmatis, a nonpathogenic cousin of Mtb. Wildtype M. smegmatis survived almost as well in the presence of NO2 as it did in water. But when the researchers knocked out one of the genes required for the synthesis of F420, the bacterium became very sensitive to NO2. They got the same result by knocking out the gene that coded for the enzyme that produces F420H2. When those genes were restored, M. smegmatis regained its resistance to NO2.

Are there other examples for such a defense system? The team found an answer to that question in the literature. Research in early 1990's showed that gamma-tocopherol, a type of vitamin E that is found in certain food materials, converts NO2 to NO and thereby prevents transformation of normal human cells to malignant tumor cells by NO2.

Purwantini and Mukhopadhyay added that, "We know the biochemistry of F420 really well based on the work on methane-producing archaea by us and others and we were able to apply that knowledge to our work on the mycobacetria. It shows how basic science information from different fields can contribute to each other."

What's next? In the immediate future, Purwantini and Mukhopadhyay want to determine the chemical mechanism of the reaction. In the long-term, they want to develop a way to intervene in F420H2 production in the Mtb cell, which will make the organism more prone to being killed by the human immune system. They also speculate that the reaction that they have found may act as a sensor. Mtb could use this reaction to gauge whether a host is capable of making NO2 and therefore immuno competent. In the absence of this reaction, Mtb could wake up from dormancy and cause active TB. This idea has a parallel in methanogenic archaea where F420 has been proposed as a probe for assessing hydrogen availability.

Lacy Daniels, now professor of pharmaceutical sciences with the Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, Texas A&M Health Science Center, said of Purwantini and Mukhopadhyay's continuation of his early work, "This discovery provides the first solid evidence that F420 is truly important for the ability of Mtb to cause disease. It will clearly stimulate efforts to study the role of F420 in animal disease models, and to study inhibitors of F420 metabolism as potential anti-TB drugs."

Robert White, associate professor of biochemistry at Virginia Tech and an expert on biosynthesis, structure, function, and genetics of the coenzymes, said of the research, "This work establishes a new function for a well studied coenzyme that is known to have only a limited distribution in microorganisms. It represents a fine example of basic scientific research providing leads for new drug targets."

Mukhopadhyay is corresponding author. Reach him at 540-231-8015 or biswarup@vt.edu. Learn more about his work at: www.vbi.vt.edu/faculty/personal_pages/biswarup_mukhopadhyay

AFTER THIS ARTICLE PUBLISHES, it will be available at www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.0812883106

Susan Trulove | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.vt.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Newly designed molecule binds nitrogen
23.02.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Atomic Design by Water
23.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>