Biosynthesis of a Novel Glutamate Racemase Containing a Site-Specific 7-Hydroxycoumarin Amino Acid: Enzyme-Ligand Promiscuity Revealed at the Atomistic Level

ACS Cent Sci. 2015 Oct 28;1(7):364-373. doi: 10.1021/acscentsci.5b00211. Epub 2015 Sep 18.


Glutamate racemase (GR) catalyzes the cofactor independent stereoinversion of l- to d-glutamate for biosynthesis of bacterial cell walls. Because of its essential nature, this enzyme is under intense scrutiny as a drug target for the design of novel antimicrobial agents. However, the flexibility of the enzyme has made inhibitor design challenging. Previous steered molecular dynamics (MD), docking, and experimental studies have suggested that the enzyme forms highly varied complexes with different competitive inhibitor scaffolds. The current study employs a mutant orthogonal tRNA/aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase pair to genetically encode a non-natural fluorescent amino acid, l-(7-hydroxycoumarin-4-yl) ethylglycine (7HC), into a region (Tyr53) remote from the active site (previously identified by MD studies as undergoing ligand-associated changes) to generate an active mutant enzyme (GRY53/7HC). The GRY53/7HC enzyme is an active racemase, which permitted us to examine the nature of these idiosyncratic ligand-associated phenomena. One type of competitive inhibitor resulted in a dose-dependent quenching of the fluorescence of GRY53/7HC, while another type of competitive inhibitor resulted in a dose-dependent increase in fluorescence of GRY53/7HC. In order to investigate the environmental changes of the 7HC ring system that are distinctly associated with each of the GRY53/7HC-ligand complexes, and thus the source of the disparate quenching phenomena, a parallel computational study is described, which includes essential dynamics, ensemble docking and MD simulations of the relevant GRY53/7HC-ligand complexes. The changes in the solvent exposure of the 7HC ring system due to ligand-associated GR changes are consistent with the experimentally observed quenching phenomena. This study describes an approach for rationally predicting global protein allostery resulting from enzyme ligation to distinctive inhibitor scaffolds. The implications for fragment-based drug discovery and high throughput screening are discussed.