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Scientists find missing enzyme for tuberculosis iron scavenging pathway

Scientists have discovered that a protein that was originally believed to be involved in tuberculosis antibiotic resistance is actually a "missing enzyme" from the biosynthetic pathway for an agent used by the bacteria to scavenge iron.

The research appears as the "Paper of the Week" in the April 8 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, an American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology journal.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis, is responsible for more morbidity in humans than any other bacteria. The emergence of multi-drug resistant strains of M. tuberculosis has prompted the search for new drug targets and a better understanding of the mechanism of resistance in this bacterium.

Several spans of DNA in the M. tuberculosis genome have been annotated as antibiotic resistance genes due to their sequence similarity to existing antibiotic resistance genes. Dr. Edward N. Baker of the University of Auckland in New Zealand explains, "Generally the sequence of the open reading frame is compared with the sequences of genes for other proteins (most of which are from different species) in sequence databases. If a close match is found, it is assumed that the function is the same or similar."

Rv1347c is one of these annotated antibiotic resistance genes in M. tuberculosis. It encodes a putative aminoglycoside N-acetyltransferase that is thought to be involved in resistance to aminoglycoside antibiotics such as streptomycin.

"The aminoglycoside antibiotics have sugar rings with amino groups attached," explains Dr. Baker. "The N-acetyltransferase chemically modifies the sugar amino group by transferring an acetyl group to it. This inactivates the antibiotic because it can no longer fit into its target."

However, in vitro biochemical assays have failed to demonstrate aminoglycoside N-acetyltransferase activity in Rv1347c. By solving the three-dimensional structure of Rv1347c, Dr. Baker and
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Source:American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


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