Probing function and structure of trehalose-6-phosphate phosphatases from pathogenic organisms suggests distinct molecular groupings.


The trehalose biosynthetic pathway is of great interest for the development of novel therapeutics because trehalose is an essential disaccharide in many pathogens but is neither required nor synthesized in mammalian hosts. As such, trehalose-6-phosphate phosphatase (TPP), a key enzyme in trehalose biosynthesis, is likely an attractive target for novel chemotherapeutics. Based on a survey of genomes from a panel of parasitic nematodes and bacterial organisms and by way of a structure-based amino acid sequence alignment, we derive the topol. structure of monoenzyme TPPs and classify them into 3 groups. Comparison of the functional roles of amino acid residues located in the active site for TPPs belonging to different groups reveal nuanced variations. Because current literature on this enzyme family shows a tendency to infer functional roles for individual amino acid residues, we investigated the roles of the strictly conserved aspartate tetrad in TPPs of the nematode Brugia malayi by using a conservative mutation approach. In contrast to aspartate-213, the residue inferred to carry out the nucleophilic attack on the substrate, we found that aspartate-215 and aspartate-428 of BmTPP are involved in the chem. steps of enzymic hydrolysis of the substrate. Therefore, we suggest that homol.-based inference of functionally important amino acids by sequence comparison for monoenzyme TPPs should only be carried out for each of the 3 groups.

FASEB Journal