Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists discover new chemical reaction for DNA production in bacteria and viruses

20.04.2009
Findings could help lead to development of new antibacterial and antiviral drugs

A team of researchers has discovered a new chemical reaction for producing one of the four nucleotides, or building blocks, needed to build DNA. The reaction includes an unusual first step, or mechanism, and unlike other known reactions that produce the DNA building block, uses an enzyme that speeds up, or catalyzes, the reaction without bonding to any of the compounds, or substrates, in the reaction.

The chemical reaction discovered by the researchers uses an enzyme called flavin-dependent thymidylate synthase, or FDTS. The enzyme is coded by the thyX gene and has been found primarily in bacteria and viruses, including several human pathogens and biological warfare agents. In the future, scientists may use this knowledge for the development of new antibacterial and antiviral drugs.

Supported with partial funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and led by Amnon Kohen, an associate professor in the departments of chemistry and molecular and cellular biology at the University of Iowa, the team reports their findings in the April 16, 2009, issue of Nature, Letters section.

Prior to the team's discovery, it was thought that thymidylate synthase, or TS, was the primary enzyme catalyzing a reaction that produced one of the four DNA building blocks called deoxy-thymidine monophosphate.

The TS enzyme is coded by the thyA and TYMS genes and is present in most multi-cellular forms of life, including humans.

Both the new and classical enzymatic reactions complete a key step in producing the DNA building block by adding a methyl group--one carbon atom attached to three hydrogen atoms--to the building block's precursor molecule called deoxy-uridine monophosphate, or dUMP.

Even though both reactions accomplish this key step, the reaction mechanisms, or steps, catalyzed by the FDTS and TS enzymes are structurally different.

Kohen and his team identified these differences using a traditional chemical method labeled isotopic substitution and a contemporary form of mass spectrometry using electron spray ionization. In particular, the team identified that the first step of the FTDS-catalyzed reaction involves the transfer of a proton and two electrons, known as a hydride, from a flavin co-factor molecule to dUMP whereas the first step of the TS-catalyzed reaction involves an amino acid from the enzyme's active site forming a bond with dUMP.

"This work nicely illustrates how chemists using traditional techniques and contemporary instrumentation methods can make substantial contributions to important and interesting problems in biology," said Charles Pibel, a program director in NSF's Division of Chemistry.

Since the two chemical reaction mechanisms used for the production of the DNA building block, and therefore DNA, are structurally different in humans and bacteria and viruses, and the enzymes used to catalyze the chemical reactions are different, the researchers' findings may assist with the development of structure-based antibiotics and antiviral drugs that selectively inhibit the activity of FDTS enzymes with little effect on TS enzymes--thereby combating pathogens causing anthrax, tuberculosis, botulism, syphilis, pneumonia, Lyme disease and other human diseases without interfering with human DNA synthesis.

"The proposed new catalytic path of the FDTS enzyme appears to be so very different from that of the classical TS enzyme that we hope that specific inhibitors against it will have little effect on DNA production in humans and thus may lead to development of new drugs with low toxicity. Also, some aspects of the proposed chemistry are not common in enzymology or biological chemistry in general, making the future testing of this mechanism very interesting and of potential broader impact," said Kohen.

Co-authors of the Nature Letter include: Eric M. Koehn and Todd Fleischmann, University of Iowa; John A. Conrad and Bruce A. Palfey, University of Michigan Medical School; Scott A. Lesley, The Joint Center for Structural Genomics at the Genomics Institute of Novartis Research Foundation; and Irimpan I. Mathews, Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory.

The research was supported by NSF's Divisions of Chemistry and Molecular and Cellular Biosciences award number 0715448 and National Institutes of Health (NIH) award number R01 GM065368 to Amnon Kohen; the Iowa Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing to Eric M. Koehn; NIH award number R01 GM61087 to Bruce A. Palfey; NIH training grant GM08270 to John A. Conrad; and The Joint Center for Structural Genomics grant U54GM074898 to Scott A. Lesley.

Portions of the research, including using an x-ray source to help reveal enzyme structure and function, were carried out at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL), a national user facility operated by Stanford University on behalf of the Department of Energy, OBER. The SSRL Structural Molecular Biology Program is supported by DOE, OBER and by NIH, NCRR, Biomedical Technology Program and National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

Jennifer A. Grasswick | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nsf.gov

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Molecular microscopy illuminates molecular motor motion
26.07.2017 | Penn State

nachricht New virus discovered in migratory bird in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
26.07.2017 | Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

CCNY physicists master unexplored electron property

26.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Molecular microscopy illuminates molecular motor motion

26.07.2017 | Life Sciences

Large-Mouthed Fish Was Top Predator After Mass Extinction

26.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>