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Characterization of 5'-methylthioadenosine/S-adenosylhomocysteine nucleosidases from Borrelia burgdorferi: Antibiotic targets for Lyme disease


Biochimica et Biophysica Acta General Subjects






Cornell KA, Knippel RJ, Cortright GR, Fonken M, Guerrero C, Hall AR, Mitchell KA, Thurston JH, Erstad P, Tao A, Xu D, Parveen N


Background: Borrelia burgdorferi causes Lyme disease, the most common tick-borne illness in the United States. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the occurrence of Lyme disease in the U.S. has now reached approximately 300,000 cases annually. Early stage Borrelia burgdorferi infections are generally treatable with oral antibiotics, but late stage disease is more difficult to treat and more likely to lead to post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome.

Methods: Here we examine three unique 5'-methylthioadenosine/S-adenosylhomocysteine (MTA/SAH) nucleosidases (MTNs or MTANs, EC responsible for salvage of adenine and methionine in B. burgdorferi and explore their potential as antibiotic targets to treat Lyme disease. Recombinant Borrelia MTNs were expressed and purified from E. coli. The enzymes were extensively characterized for activity, specificity, and inhibition using a UV spectrophotometric assay. In vitro antibiotic activities of MTN inhibitors were assessed using a bioluminescent BacTiter-Glo™ assay.

Results: The three Borrelia MTNs showed unique activities against the native substrates MTA, SAH, and 5'-deoxyadenosine. Analysis of substrate analogs revealed that specific activity rapidly dropped as the length of the 5'-alkylthio substitution increased. Non-hydrolysable nucleoside transition state analogs demonstrated sub-nanomolar enzyme inhibition constants. Lastly, two late stage transition state analogs exerted in vitro IC50 values of 0.3-0.4 μg/mL against cultured B. burgdorferi cells.

Conclusion: B. burgdorferi is unusual in that it expresses three distinct MTNs (cytoplasmic, membrane bound, and secreted) that are effectively inactivated by nucleoside analogs.

General significance: The Borrelia MTNs appear to be promising targets for developing new antibiotics to treat Lyme disease.



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