Differential response of orthologous L,L-diaminopimelate aminotransferases (DapL) to enzyme inhibitory antibiotic lead compounds

Bioorg Med Chem. 2014 Jan 1;22(1):523-30. doi: 10.1016/j.bmc.2013.10.055. Epub 2013 Nov 9.


L,L-Diaminopimelate aminotransferase (DapL) is an enzyme required for the biosynthesis of meso-diaminopimelate (m-DAP) and L-lysine (Lys) in some bacteria and photosynthetic organisms. m-DAP and Lys are both involved in the synthesis of peptidoglycan (PG) and protein synthesis. DapL is found in specific eubacterial and archaeal lineages, in particular in several groups of pathogenic bacteria such as Leptospira interrogans (LiDapL), the soil/water bacterium Verrucomicrobium spinosum (VsDapL) and the alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (CrDapL). Here we present the first comprehensive inhibition study comparing the kinetic activity of DapL orthologs using previously active small molecule inhibitors formerly identified in a screen with the DapL of Arabidopsis thaliana (AtDapL), a flowering plant. Each inhibitor is derived from one of four classes with different central structural moieties: a hydrazide, a rhodanine, a barbiturate, or a thiobarbituate functionality. The results show that all five compounds tested were effective at inhibiting the DapL orthologs. LiDapL and AtDapL showed similar patterns of inhibition across the inhibitor series, whereas the VsDapL and CrDapL inhibition patterns were different from that of LiDapL and AtDapL. CrDapL was found to be insensitive to the hydrazide (IC₅₀ >200 μM). VsDapL was found to be the most sensitive to the barbiturate and thiobarbiturate containing inhibitors (IC₅₀ ∼5 μM). Taken together, the data shows that the homologs have differing sensitivities to the inhibitors with IC₅₀ values ranging from 4.7 to 250 μM. In an attempt to understand the basis for these differences the four enzymes were modeled based on the known structure of AtDapL. Overall, it was found that the enzyme active sites were conserved, although the second shell of residues close to the active site were not. We conclude from this that the altered binding patterns seen in the inhibition studies may be a consequence of the inhibitors forming additional interactions with residues proximal to the active site, or that the inhibitors may not act by binding to the active site. Compounds that are specific for DapL could be potential biocides (antibiotic, herbicide or algaecide) that are nontoxic to animals since animals do not contain the enzymes necessary for PG or Lys synthesis. This study provides important information to expand our current understanding of the structure/activity relationship of DapL and putative inhibitors that are potentially useful for the design and or discovery of novel biocides.

Keywords: Algaecide; Antibiotics; Diaminopimelate; Herbicide; Peptidoglycan; l,l-Diaminopimelate aminotransferase; l-Lysine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Diaminopimelic Acid / chemistry*
  • Diaminopimelic Acid / metabolism
  • Lead / pharmacology*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Peptidoglycan
  • Protein Conformation
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Transaminases / chemistry*
  • Transaminases / metabolism


  • Peptidoglycan
  • Lead
  • Diaminopimelic Acid
  • Transaminases