Our recent paper has just been accepted in Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling. In this paper we investigate the catalytic mechanism of a bacterial monoglycosyltransferase enzyme using QM/MM simulations. From these results, we present a new hypothesis for the binding mode of lipid II and the reaction mechanism of the GT51 glycosyltransferases.

Bacterial glycosyltransferases of the GT51 family are key enzymes in bacterial cell wall synthesis. Inhibiting cell wall synthesis is a very effective approach for development of antibiotics, as this can lead to either bacteriostatic or bactericidal effects. Even though the existence of this family has been known for over 50 years, only one potent inhibitor exists, which is an analog of the lipid IV product and derived from a natural product. Drug development focused on bacterial transglycosylase has been hampered due to little being know about its structure and reaction mechanism. In this study, Staphylococcus aureus monoglycosyltransferase was investigated at an atomistic level using computational methods. Classical molecular dynamics simulations were used to reveal information about the large-scale dynamics of the enzyme–substrate complex and the importance of magnesium in structure and function of the protein, while mixed mode quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics calculations unveiled a novel hypothesis for the reaction mechanism. From these results, we present a new model for the binding mode of lipid II and the reaction mechanism of the GT51 glycosyltransferases. A metal-bound hydroxide catalyzed reaction mechanism yields an estimated free energy barrier of 16.1 ± 1.0 kcal/mol, which is in line with experimental values. The importance of divalent cations is also further discussed. These findings could significantly aid targeted drug design, particularly the efficient development of transition state analogues as potential inhibitors for the GT51 glycosyltransferases.

Many thanks to Kenneth Goossens, Rui Neves and Pedro Fernandes for the nice work!

J. Chem. Inf. Model. (2020), 60, 5513-5528