A DNA aptamer reveals an allosteric site for inhibition in metallo-β-lactamases
A DNA aptamer reveals an allosteric site for inhibition in metallo-?-lactamases
Nazmul H. Khan 0 1 2
Anthony A. BuiID 0 1 2
Yang Xiao 0 1 2
R. Bryan Sutton 1 2
Robert W. Shaw 0 1 2
Benjamin J. Wylie 0 1 2
Michael P. LathamID 0 1 2
0 Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Texas Tech University , Lubbock, Texas , United States of America, 2 Department of Cell Physiology & Molecular Biophysics, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center , Lubbock, Texas , United States of America
1 Editor: Freddie Salsbury, Jr, Wake Forest University , UNITED STATES
2 Funding: Use of the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, under Contract No. DE-AC01- 76SF00515. The SSRL Structural Molecular Biology Program is supported by the DOE Office of Biological and Environmental Research, and by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institutes of Health (including
The hydrolysis of ?-lactam antibiotics by ?-lactamase enzymes is the most prominent antibiotic resistance mechanism for many pathogenic bacteria. Out of this broad class of enzymes, metallo-?-lactamases are of special clinical interest because of their broad substrate specificities. Several in vitro inhibitors for various metallo-?-lactamases have been reported with no clinical efficacy. Previously, we described a 10-nucleotide single stranded DNA aptamer (10-mer) that inhibits Bacillus cereus 5/B/6 metallo-?-lactamase very effectively. Here, we find that the aptamer shows uncompetitive inhibition of Bacillus cereus 5/B/ 6 metallo-?-lactamase during cefuroxime hydrolysis. To understand the mechanism of inhibition, we report a 2.5 ? resolution X-ray crystal structure and solution-state NMR analysis of the free enzyme. Chemical shift perturbations were observed in the HSQC spectra for several residues upon titrating with increasing concentrations of the 10-mer. In the X-ray crystal structure, these residues are distal to the active site, suggesting an allosteric mechanism for the aptamer inhibition of the enzyme. HADDOCK molecular docking simulations suggest that the 10-mer docks 26 ? from the active site. We then mutated the three lysine residues in the basic binding patch to glutamine and measured the catalytic activity and inhibition by the 10-mer. No significant inhibition of these mutants was observed by the 10-mer as compared to wild type. Interestingly, mutation of Lys50 (Lys78; according to standard MBL numbering system) resulted in reduced enzymatic activity relative to wild type in the absence of inhibitor, further highlighting an allosteric mechanism for inhibition.
Data Availability Statement: All relevant data are
in the paper.
?-lactam antibiotics are the most widely prescribed class of antimicrobial drugs because of
their high effectiveness and relatively low cost . Consequently, the evolution of ?-lactam
antibiotic resistance in pathogenic bacteria is a major threat to human health. The production
of ?-lactamase enzymes, which catalyze the hydrolysis of the endocyclic amide bond of the
?-lactam ring, is the most common mechanism for resistance to these antibiotics . Based
on sequence identity, there are four classes of ?-lactamases. Classes A, C, and D are serine
P41GM103393). The contents of this publication
are solely the responsibility of the authors and do
not necessarily represent the official views of
NIGMS or NIH. Research reported in the
publication was supported by the National Institute
of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
(NIAMS) under award number R01AR063634 (R.
B.S), by seed money from the Office of the Vice
President for Research, TTU (R.W.S), The National
Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
under award numbers R35GM124979 (B.J.W.) and
by Welch Foundation Grant D-1876 (M.P.L.).
Competing interests: The authors have declared
that no competing interests exist.
Abbreviations: 5/B/6, Bacillus cereus 5/B/6; BcII,
Bacillus cereus 569/H9; HADDOCK, Highly
Ambiguous Data-driving DOCKing; HSQC,
heteronuclear single quantum coherence; MBLs,
metallo-?-lactamases; NDM-1, New Delhi
metallo?-lactamase 1; NMR, nuclear magnetic resonance;
SLAC, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center; VIM-4,
Verona integron-encoded metallo-?-lactamase.
?-lactamases, which have a serine residue in their active site. Class B enzymes are zinc
dependent metallo-?-lactamases (MBLs), which require one or two Zn2+ in their active site for
catalysis [3, 4]. The most studied, clinically important chromosomally encoded MBLs are native to
Bacillus cereus and Stenotrophomonas maltophilia . In recent years, many new and highly
transmissible MBLs have been identified . For example, since its discovery in a Swedish
male patient of Indian origin in 2009, New Delhi metallo-?-lactamase 1 (NDM-1) has emerged
as the most dangerous threat in the rise of multi-drug resistant bacteria strains. Encoded in a
highly transposable genetic element, NDM-1 can hydrolyze almost all ?-lactam antibiotics
including carbapenems . Additionally, more than 140 allotypes of imipenemase (IMP) and
Verona integron-encoded metallo-?-lactamase (VIM) type MBLs have been reported
worldwide [8, 9]. Both IMP- and VIM-type enzymes show broad substrate specificity with high
affinity for cephalosporins and carbapenems . VIM-type MBLs are also capable of
hydrolyzing 6-?-methoxypenicilin, a ?-lactam antibiotic thought to be stable against ?-lactamases [
]. Thus, developing novel inhibitors for MBLs is essential for the continued use of ?-lactam
antibiotics. Though extensive studies have been performed, no therapeutic inhibitors have
been identified. This search is complicated by not fully understanding the role of the catalytic
Zn2+ ions in the catalytic mechanism and architectural similarities of active sites of MBLs with
some mammalian enzymes [12, 13]. Despite these challenges, several promising in vitro
inhibitors of MBL have been identified. In most cases, these inhibitors were found to inhibit the
enzyme by interacting with the active site residues or by chelating the Zn2+ ions [14?18] which
would have toxic side effects in humans. For example, the anticancer antibiotic mithramycin
inhibits MBL from Bacillus cereus (BcII MBL) by altering the structure of the enzyme and
potentially disrupting the active site Zn2+ ions [
]. Some inhibitors have also been reported
that mediate inhibition of MBL without interacting with the active site Zn2+. For example,
camelid nanobodies inhibit VIM-4 by interacting with residues away from the active site [
For systemic treatment, it is essential to develop directed and selective therapies. To this
end, oligonucleotide aptamers show promise as both drugs and drug delivery systems [
Aptamers can recognize a target molecule with high affinity and specificity . Advantages of
nucleic acid aptamers, compared to traditional antibodies or nanobodies, include their smaller
size, structural flexibility, low production cost and time, and little or no immunogenicity or
]. Nucleic acid aptamers are not however without drawbacks: for example, they
are very susceptible to degradation by endogenous nucleases and do not readily cross the
plasma membrane both of which limits their bioavailability [
]. Previously, we identified
oligonucleotide aptamers that act as inhibitors of Bacillus cereus 5/B/6 metallo-?-lactamase
(hereafter referred to as 5/B/6 MBL; Sequence ID: AAA22562.1). We used SELEX [
] to select
single-stranded DNA (ssDNA), double-stranded DNA (dsDNA), and RNA aptamers from
random oligonucleotide starting libraries. A truncated 10-residue DNA (10-mer) was the most
potent oligonucleotide inhibitor identified from a random 61-mer ssDNA library . Note,
the 5/B/6 MBL, which we use in our biochemical and structural studies, is a different isolate
from the commonly used BcII MBL (Sequence ID: EEL64219.1). 5/B/6 MBL, which was
isolated by Davies et al [
], and BcII MBL, which was isolated by Sabath et al [
] with crystal
structures reported by Carfi et al [
] and Fabiane et al [
], share 93% sequence identity, and
as we will show below are structurally the same.
In this paper, we couple kinetic and structural studies of the free and inhibited Bacillus
cereus 5/B/6 MBL to understand the structure-activity relationships that underlie the
inhibition by the 10-mer DNA. We structurally characterized the enzyme using X-ray
crystallography and solution state NMR. Our structural data, including chemical shift perturbations from
an NMR titration experiment, were leveraged to constrain a model of the enzyme-inhibitor
complex. This model was confirmed by mutating enzyme residues found to interact with the
2 / 19
10-mer. Our data suggests that the association of 10-mer with 5/B/6 MBL during cefuroxime
hydrolysis allosterically modulates the enzyme, culminating in uncompetitive enzymatic
inhibition. This result identifies a novel site for future 5/B/6 and BcII MBL inhibitor design.
Materials and methods
Bacillus cereus 5/B/6 metallo-?-lactamase expression and purification
For expression and purification of unlabeled enzyme, E. coli BL21 (DE3) codon plus
competent cells (Stratagene) were transformed with pET29 plasmid containing the structural gene of
B. cereus 5/B/6 MBL. Transformed cells were grown at 37 ?C in LB medium supplemented
with 0.1 mM ZnSO4 and 50 ?g/ml kanamycin. Enzyme overexpression was induced with 1
mM IPTG added at attenuance at 600 nm of 1.0; the cells were further grown for 12 hours at
20 ?C. Cells were harvested by centrifugation, washed, and resuspended in 20 mM MOPS, 1
mM ZnSO4, pH 7.0 buffer (20/1 buffer). Then the cells were lysed via four passes through
a French pressure cell. Cell lysate was centrifuged using a Fiberlite F21-8x50y rotor (Thermo
Scientific) at 20000 rpm (47360 g) for 1 hour at 4 ?C. Solid (NH4)2SO4 was added to the
supernatant to a final concentration of 200 mM. Insoluble materials were removed by
ultracentrifugation using a Beckman Ti 90 rotor at 90000 rpm (694000 g) for 2 hours at 4 ?C. Supernatant
was loaded onto a 25 ml POROS XS strong cation exchange column (Applied Biosystems)
previously equilibrated with 20/1 buffer. This column was washed with 20/1 buffer. After elution
of unbound materials, the bound enzyme was eluted with a step gradient to 20 mM MOPS, 1
mM ZnSO4, 200 mM (NH4)2SO4, pH 7. Fractions that contained the enzyme were loaded
onto a 7?15.6 cm Bio-gel P-60 column previously equilibrated with 20/1 buffer. The column
was washed with 20/1 buffer. Enzyme containing fractions were concentrated by using an
Amicon concentrator (Cole-Parmer, USA) equipped with an YM-10 membrane (10000
molecular weight cutoff). After every step of the purification, enzyme activity was calculated
with a modified method described by Kim et al.  and Davies et al. [
] and total protein
was determined by the method of Lowry et al. [
] using bovine serum albumin for the
standard. Enzyme purity was ascertained by specific activity and SDS-PAGE and was judged to be
>98% pure. Glycerol (20% v/v final concentration) was added to the pure enzyme, which was
stored at -20 ?C. For NMR experiments, isotopically labeled enzyme was purified in the same
way, however, the cells were grown in 2x M9 minimal medium (13.6 g/L Na2HPO4, 6.0 g/L
KH2PO4, 1.0 g/L NaCl, 0.5 g/L Mg2SO4 7H2O, pH 7.1) [
] supplemented with 12C- or
13CD-glucose (3 g/L) and (15NH4)2SO4 (1 g/L) as the sole carbon and nitrogen sources,
respectively, along with vitamins (1 ?g/mL each biotin and thiamine) and kanamycin (50 ?g/ml).
Generally, ~40 and ~25 milligrams of purified enzyme were produced from per liter LB or
minimal media, respectively.
Selection of the 10-mer DNA
The process of the 10-mer selection by SELEX was described in Kim et al. . The 10-mer
(5?-CCAAACTTGG-3?) was purchased from Oligo Factory (Holliston, MA, USA) and used
in all inhibition assays and NMR experiments without further purification.
Enzyme kinetic studies
Using cefuroxime as the substrate, we measured 5/B/6 MBL activity in 50 mM MOPS, 1 mM
ZnSO4, pH 7 through a spectrophotometric method described by Kim et al. . In this
protocol, the decrease in substrate absorbance (??276nm = 4.42 mM-1 cm-1) was continuously
monitored at 276 nm during hydrolysis using a Shimadzu UV160U spectrophotometer and a quartz
3 / 19
cuvette with 0.1 cm pathlength. All assays were performed with a final concentration of 0.3 ?M
enzyme in a reaction volume of 300 ?L. One unit of enzyme activity was defined as the amount
of enzyme required for catalyzing the hydrolysis of 1 ?mol of substrate in 1 minute at 30 ?C.
For inhibition assays, diluted enzyme was pre-incubated with or without 10-mer DNA
aptamer in the buffer for 15 min at 25 ?C. All kinetic measurements were repeated in at least
triplicate. A global nonlinear curve fitting was performed to determine the inhibition type using the
equation v ? VKmma?xa?papp?p????SS in GraphPad Prism 6.0 [
], where v is the reaction rate, Km?app? ? Kam0;
Km is the Michaelis-Menten constant, Vmax?app? ? Vm0ax; Vmax is the maximum velocity and
Vmax = kcat [E] (enzyme concentration), [S] substrate concentration and a0 ? 1 ? ?I =KI0
(where [I] is the inhibitor concentration and KI0 is the inhibition constant). In the global fit, the
Vmax, Km, and KI0 are shared in all datasets. IC50s (concentration of an inhibitor that inhibits
50% of the enzyme) were determined by plotting log of remaining activity as a function of
Crystallization trials for 5/B/6 MBL were carried out using the structure screen 1 + 2 HT-96
(Molecular Dimensions). The concentration of the enzyme sample used for the screening was
20 mg/ml in 5 mM MOPS and 0.5 mM ZnSO4 at pH 7.0. Crystals typically appear within a
week when incubated at 23 ?C. Further optimization was performed using 24-well VDX plates
and 1 mL reservoir volume containing 0.1 M Tris at pH 8.5 and 8% w/v PEG 8000. Hanging
droplets were comprised of 1 ?L of reservoir solution and 1 ?L of protein. Final X-ray data
were collected at 100 K and a wavelength of 1.283 ? using beam line 7?1 at Stanford Linear
Accelerator Center (SLAC). Data were integrated using XDS [
]. Merging and scaling were
performed using AIMLESS [
]. Molecular replacement, starting from PDB ID 1BC2 [Fabiane
et al 1998], and refinement were done with PHENIX [
]. COOT [
] was used for manual
density fitting. The coordinates and structure factors have been deposited in the Protein Data
Bank (http://pdb.org) under the PDB ID 6DJA. Table 1 summarizes the data collection and
refinement statistics. Ramachandran statistics showed that 97.3% and 2.7% of all residues were
in favored and allowed regions, respectively.
NMR spectroscopy and sequential backbone assignments
NMR experiments were performed on an Agilent DD2 600 MHz spectrometer (Santa Clara,
CA, USA) equipped with a z-axis pulsed field gradient room temperature HCN probe.
Standard 3D gradient-selected, sensitivity enhanced triple resonance backbone assignment
experiments (HNCACB/CBCAcoNH, HNCA/HNcoCA and HNCO/HNcaCO) [
recorded on an ~1.4 mM enzyme sample in 20 mM MOPS, 1 mM ZnSO4, pH 7 at a set point
of 25 ?C. Spectra were processed and analyzed with the NMRPipe/NMRDraw software
package  and CCPN analysis program [
]. The secondary structure of 5/B/6 MBL was
predicted by the program TALOS+ [
], using the 1HN, 15N, 13CO, 13C?, and 13C? chemical
shift resonance assignments, and compared with the X-ray crystal structure using PyMol [
Additionally, the 1HN, 15N, 13CO, 13C?, and 13C? chemical shift resonance assignments were
submitted to the CS-ROSETTA [
] server (https://csrosetta.bmrb.wisc.edu/csrosetta/submit)
and 3000 structures were calculated using default parameters. Note, this structure was only
used for diagnostic purposes, to confirm that the measured NMR chemical shifts conform to
our X-ray crystal structure. Backbone chemical shift assignments have been deposited in the
Biological Magnetic Resonance Data Bank (http://www.bmrb.wisc.edu/) under BMRB ID
4 / 19
NMR titration experiments
NMR titration experiments were performed by combining 750 ?M uniformly 15N-labeled
enzyme with 0, 0.125, 0.25, 0.375, 0.50, 0.625, 0.75, 0.875, 1.0, 1.25, 1.50, 2.0, and 4.0 molar
equivalents of the 10-mer aptamer. Gradient-selected, sensitivity enhanced 1H-15N HSQC
] spectra were recorded on an Agilent DD2 600 MHz spectrometer at a set temperature
of 25 ?C and were processed and analyzed with NMRPipe and CCPN analysis. Chemical
shift perqtufrbaftioinfs fat ia fgivfeni finhfibiiftorfcoinfcefntifrffatiiffoniif(f?iNfH,iif)fwiefreifcfailcfulifafteidfaicfcfoirfdiifnfgitfoiffiffi
dH;i?2 ? 0:1 dN;i?2; where ?H and ?N are the 1HN and 15N
chemidNH;i ? ?dH;apo ?dN;apo
cal shifts in the free state (apo) and bound to inhibitor (i), respectively. Binding affinities were
calculated by fitting the chemical shift changes of the enzyme as a function of inhibitor
centration to y ? A??B ? x? f?B ? x?2 4xg ; where A = (maximum chemical shift
change)/2, B = 1+KD/[protein], y = chemical shift change, and x = [ligand]/[protein].
5 / 19
10-mer-5/B/6 MBL docking
Models of the 10-mer-5/B/6 MBL complex were calculated from molecular docking
simulations using the HADDOCK  software package (http://milou.science.uu.nl/services/
HADDOCK2.2/haddockserver-easy.html). Our crystal structure of 5/B/6 MBL and a model
of the 3-D 10-mer hairpin structure, which was calculated in 3D-NuS [
3dnus/index.html), were used as starting structures. Docking restraints were derived from the
chemical shift perturbations observed during the 10-mer NMR titration. ?Active? residues,
which are those experimentally identified to take place in the binding reaction, in the docking
simulations included Thr76, Lys78, Phe103, Lys104, Lys107, and Tyr208 of 5/B/6 MBL,
whereas all nucleotides in the 10-mer were considered ?active.? The residue numbering is
presented according to the standard MBL numbering system [
]. ?Passive? residues, which
are solvent exposed neighbors to ?active? residues, were defined automatically by HADDOCK.
The 200 calculated structures were automatically classified into 8 clusters.
Site-directed lysine to glutamine mutations were generated through a modified QuikChange
(Stratagene) protocol. Plasmids encoding these mutants were transformed into E. coli BL21
(DE3) codon plus cells for over-expression. Protein purification and activity and inhibition
assays were performed as described above.
Enzyme kinetic studies suggest a novel site for aptamer binding
To understand the mechanism of 10-mer inhibition of 5/B/6 MBL, we quantified
MichaelisMenten enzyme kinetics by monitoring the hydrolysis of the antibiotic cefuroxime (second
generation semisynthetic cephalosporin with a furan containing side chain, Fig 1A). For
wild type, uninhibited 5/B/6 MBL, Km, Vmax, and kcat were calculated to be 1.1 ? 0.1 mM,
370 ? 20 ?mol min-1 mg-1, and 164 ? 8, respectively, from a non-linear regression plot (black
points in Fig 1B). The 10-mer aptamer inhibits 5/B/6 MBL cefuroxime hydrolysis with an IC50
of 120 ? 5 nM (S1A Fig). In contrast to the noncompetitive inhibition of 5/B/6 MBL by the
10-mer during cephalosporin C (a cephalosporin antibiotic with a diamino adipoyl side chain,
for which a Km and Vmax of 0.39 mM and 1333 ?mol min-1 mg-1 for the 5/B/6 MBL,
], Fig 1A) hydrolysis , uncompetitive inhibition (Fig 1B and S1B Fig) was
observed for the hydrolysis of cefuroxime with a calculated inhibition constant (KI0 ) of 63 ? 3
nM. Thus, the inhibition pattern and kinetic parameters of 5/B/6 MBL differ between
substrates and suggests that the 10-mer does not bind 5/B/6 MBL competitively. Note, the 10-mer
was originally derived from a 30 nucleotide DNA obtained from our SELEX experiment. As
part of that experiment, we showed that the inhibitory effect of this DNA aptamer resulted
solely from the 10-mer sequence. Deleting the flanking DNA sequences upstream and
downstream of the predicted 10-mer hairpin structure resulted in the same inhibition of 5/B/6 MBL
activity as the 30-mer DNA, and the isolated flanking sequences did not inhibit on their own
Uncompetitive inhibitors require the formation of the enzyme-substrate complex in order
to interact with the enzyme and are characterized by decreases in both Km and Vmax, as seen
here for cefuroxime in Fig 1B and S1B Fig. During uncompetitive inhibition, an
enzyme-catalyzed reaction becomes blocked beyond ES formation [
]. On the other hand,
noncompetitive inhibitors can either bind to the enzyme alone or to the enzyme-substrate complex and
are characterized by an increase in Km and decrease in Vmax. Therefore, the 10-mer aptamer
6 / 19
Fig 1. Inhibition of 5/B/6 MBL by the 10-mer aptamer during cefuroxime hydrolysis. A) Chemical structures of the
?-lactam antibiotics cephalosporin C and cefuroxime. Also shown is the M-fold predicted secondary structure of the
10-mer DNA aptamer. B) Plot of the specific activity versus cefuroxime concentration. Points and error bars are the
average and standard deviation of at least three measurements. Solid lines represent the non-linear regression
calculation (global correlation coefficient R2 = 0.964), which shows the uncompetitive inhibition pattern during
cefuroxime hydrolysis. Black circle: 10-mer concentration [I] = 0 (local correlation coefficient R2 = 0.969); cyan: [I] =
20 nM (R2 = 0.957); green: [I] = 40 nM (R2 = 0.961); magenta: [I] = 60 nM (R2 = 0.965); red: [I] = 80 nM (R2 = 0.949);
yellow: [I] = 100 nM (R2 = 0.913); and blue: [I] = 120 nM (R2 = 0.960).
inhibition pattern exhibited for each substrate indicates that the interaction of the inhibitor
with 5/B/6 MBL probably occurs at an allosteric site distal to the active site (i.e. is not
competitive with the substrate) [
Structure of wild type B. cereus 5/B/6 metallo-?-lactamase
To put the mechanism of inhibition into a structural context, X-ray crystallography trials were
initiated for the aptamer-free and 10-mer-bound enzyme. The 2.5 ?ngstro?m (?) resolution
crystal structure of aptamer-free 5/B/6 MBL with both Zn2+ ions bound is shown in Fig 2.
Crystal structures of several B1 metallo-?-lactamases have been determined and can be found on the
7 / 19
Fig 2. X-ray crystal structure of 5/B/6 MBL shows the typical MBL fold. Secondary structural elements are colored deep teal for beta sheets and orange for alpha
helices; whereas, turns/coils are colored grey and the Zn2+ atoms are represented by light blue spheres. The left panel shows the overall enzyme structure with
lysine residues at the allosteric site in Loop 4 (L4) and Loop 6 (L6). The right structure shows the active site residues that are responsible for coordinating the two
MBLED (Metallo-Beta-Lactamase Engineering Database; http://www.mbled.uni-stuttgart.de)
]. Subclass B1 MBLs display a ??/?? sandwich fold in their tertiary structures with a
consensus sequence of HXHXD(X)iH(X)jC(X)kH (in single letter code for amino acids where X = any
amino acid, i = 55?74, j = 18?24, and k = 37?41), with H, D, and C residues coordinating the
Zn2+ ions . Our structure shows a similar fold. Table 1 contains the crystallography data
collection and refinement statistics.
Because of difficulties in obtaining diffraction quality crystals of the 10-mer-bound 5/B/6
MBL, solution state NMR studies were also initiated. The 1H-15N HSQC of aptamer-free 5/
B/6 MBL is shown in Fig 3; over 87% (199 non-proline residues out of 228 total residues)
of the backbone 1HN, 15N, 13CO, 13C?, and 13C? resonances were assigned. Main chain
assignments were not obtained for Glu28-Lys34, Glu39, Lys50, Ser62, Pro68, Ser69, Ala140,
Glu168, Glu169, Pro170, Ser176-Asn179, Asn184, Pro192, Gly193, Pro206, Ser227, Asn233,
and Pro261. Most of the unassigned residues are found either in turns or loop regions. The
secondary structure propensities were calculated from the NMR data by TALOS+ and
compared with those of the X-ray crystal structure. The length and position of the secondary
structure elements agreed between the X-ray crystallography and solution state NMR data
sets (S2 Fig). The CS-ROSETTA calculated solution NMR structure also shows the typical
??/?? sandwich fold for metallo-?-lactamases (S3A Fig). Because many of the loop
resonances were not assigned and the Zn2+ ions were not present in the CS-ROSETTA modeling,
small differences exist between the X-ray crystal and solution NMR structures. This is shown
in S3B Fig where the ?-helix and ?-sheet regions of the X-ray crystal and NMR structures
were aligned in PyMOL to compare the two structures. The C? r.m.s.d. for regions of
secondary structure is 2.37 ? indicating that the two structures are indeed similar. Together, these
structural data are the starting point for understanding the structure of the 10-mer
aptamerinhibited 5/B/6 MBL.
8 / 19
Fig 3. 2D 1H-15N HSQC spectra of 5/B/6 MBL. Amino acid assignments are indicated. Inset is a magnification of the more crowded region.
NMR titration experiments confirm that the 10-mer does not bind to the
enzyme active site
We next performed NMR titration experiments to determine the location of 10-mer binding
and the binding affinity (S4 Fig). Changes in the chemical environment of NMR active nuclei
upon ligand binding are easily detected by monitoring chemical shift perturbations (CSPs)
]. While the vast majority of residues experience no change in resonance position upon
addition of 10-mer (S4 Fig), six residues showed significant CSPs upon titrating with
increasing concentrations of 10-mer (0 to 4 molar equivalents): Thr76, Lys78, Phe103, Lys104,
Lys107, and Tyr208. Interestingly, all of these residues are on the opposite side of the enzyme
from the active site in three structurally adjacent loops (L4, L6, L13). Among these residues
were three lysines (78, 104, and 107) on loops L4 and L6, shown in the crystal structure in Fig
2A, that make up a basic patch. The side chain amines of Lys78 and Lys107 are 11.7 ? away
from each other providing ample space to occupy the loop region of the 10-mer (~8.7 ?
distance between A5 and C6 of the aptamer). Moreover, the distance between the backbone
amide groups of Lys104 and Tyr208 is ~22 ?, which is within the range of the length of a
10-mer hairpin structure (~20 ?). A spectral overlay highlighting the chemical shift
perturbations between the reference and several inhibitor concentrations for these lysine residues is
shown in Fig 4A. Since binding of 10-mer to enzyme occurred in the fast exchange regime of
the chemical shift timescale, binding affinities were extracted from fits of the CSPs (Fig 4).
While the CSPs are small in magnitude, likely reflecting that the interaction between 10-mer
and 5/B/6 MBL occurs largely through side chain interactions, we were able to analyze the data
9 / 19
Fig 4. NMR titration of 5/B/6 MBL with the 10-mer aptamer reveals the site of aptamer binding. A) 2D 1H-15N
HSQC spectra of lysine residues that showed chemical shift perturbation upon the addition of 10-mer. The direction of
the movement for each peak is shown with a black arrow. The lightest color represents the no inhibitor condition and
the darkest color represents presence of 3 mM of the 10-mer (i.e., 4.0 molar equivalents). B) Binding curves for the
three lysine residues. The calculated KDs from individual fits of the Lys78, Lys104, and Lys107 chemical shift change
are 125 ? 4 nM, 233 ? 6 nM, and 100 ? 3 nM, respectively. Errors in the KD are from the fit.
to determine binding affinities. Typical hyperbolic binding curves were observed for all three
lysine residues, shown in Fig 4B, and KDs of 100?233 nM were obtained from fits to a
twostate quadratic binding isotherm. Note that this binding affinity is comparable to the KI0
obtained from analysis of the kinetic inhibition data (63 ? 3 nM).
It was previously hypothesized that the 10-mer exerts its inhibition by binding near the
active site thereby perturbing the coordination of Zn2+ ions . Significantly, no CSPs were
observed in the HSQC spectra for the Zn2+-coordinating active site residues (His116, His118,
Asp120, His196, Cys221 and His263; S4 Fig) indicating that the 10-mer does not strip the
catalytic ions. This binding of aptamer to a site away from the active site supports the hypothesis of
allosteric inhibition of the 5/B/6 MBL by the 10-mer.
Molecular docking identifies probable interaction of the 10-mer with 5/B/6
MBL at the allosteric site
For a low-resolution visualization of the 10-mer?enzyme complex, we performed molecular
docking simulations using HADDOCK [
]. 200 models of the complex were calculated using
10 / 19
Fig 5. Model of the 10-mer bound to 5/B/6 MBL provides a picture of the inhibited state. Model of the 10-mer
bound to 5/B/6 MBL. The lowest energy HADDOCK structure is given, while a representative structure from the seven
other clusters is given in S5 Fig. The coloring of secondary structural elements for the 5/B/6 MBL follows Fig 2, and the
red, blue and green sticks denote K78, K104, and K107, respectively. The 10-mer is shown as salmon sticks and the two
Zn2+ ions are light blue spheres. A) The overall structure of the enzyme-10-mer complex. B) A closer view of the
enzyme-10-mer interaction site.
our X-ray crystallography model and a hairpin model of the 10-mer aptamer, which was
calculated in 3D-NuS [
]. Constraints were placed between the six 5/B/6 MBL residues that
experienced CSPs and all ten residues of the 10-mer. Fig 5 and S5 Fig show the resulting structures of
the simulated enzyme-aptamer complexes with different orientations of the 10-mer.
The docking models suggest that loops L4 and L6 predominantly interact with the 10-mer
(Fig 5A). In the majority of the representative models, Lys104 (5 of 8 models?S5a, S5b, S5c,
S5e and S5g Fig) and Lys107 (7 of 8 ?not seen in S5c Fig) form ionic interactions with the
ribose-phosphate backbone of the 10-mer. Interestingly, there are four models where these
basic residues recognize A-T or C-G base pairs in the model stem loop DNA (Fig 5 and S5c,
S5d and S5f Fig). A similar story is also found for Lys78: it forms ionic interactions with the
DNA backbone in 3 of 8 models (Fig 5 and S5d and S5g Fig), or in one interesting case (S5b
Fig), Lys78 hydrogen bonds with the imino nitrogen of Cyt6, which is in the proposed loop of
the 10-mer. In half of the models (S5a, S5b, S5d and S5e Fig), the hydroxyl group of Tyr208 on
L13 forms a hydrogen bond with the backbone of the DNA. Lastly, we did not observe any
direct interactions in the HADDOCK models between the 10-mer and Thr76 and Phe103, so
the CSPs for these residues must be due to indirect effects from aptamer binding. Note, that
the small backbone amide CSPs observed in Fig 5 and S5 Fig are indeed consistent with these
models, which suggest that the binding of 10-mer to 5/B/6 MBL is mediated through side
chain interactions. Thus, we hypothesize that the 10-mer interacts with the lysine residues (Fig
5B) on L4 and L6 and disrupts a network of residues towards the Zn2 ion.
Mutations confirm the presence of an allosteric site on B. cereus 5/B/6
To corroborate our binding model, three lysine-to-glutamine mutants were made via
sitedirected mutagenesis (K78Q, double mutation K104Q/K107Q, and triple mutation K78Q/
K104Q/K107Q). As these mutations are far from the active site, it was expected that there
would be no change in enzymatic activity during cefuroxime hydrolysis. Specific activities of
wild type and mutant enzymes are shown in Table 2. Without the inhibitor, the double mutant
(K104Q/K107Q) showed no significant change in activity as compared to wild type. On the
other hand, the single mutant (K78Q) and triple mutant (K78Q/K104Q/K107Q) enzymes
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aKinetic values and associated errors represent the average of at least five replicates and their standard deviation.
showed ~30% less activity than wild type enzyme. Analysis of the steady-state kinetics data
(Fig 6) indicates that there are statistically significant (p-value = 0.0018) decreases in kcat for
K78Q and K78Q/K104Q/K107Q and no change in Km (Table 2) as compared to wild type
enzyme. This decrease in kcat would likely have minimal effect on the activity of mutated
enzyme in vivo; nevertheless, this result suggests that an allosteric network extends through the
interior of the enzyme from the active site. Finally, inhibition of the three mutant enzymes by
10-mer was also studied. As shown in Table 2, no significant inhibition was observed in any of
the mutant enzymes as compared to wild type, confirming our NMR and HADDOCK results
that the aptamer must bind to these residues. Thus, disruption of ionic interactions between
these lysine residues and the DNA leads to an inability of the 10-mer to bind the enzyme. This
is consistent with our structural models where the inhibition by the aptamer occurs through
binding to a unique allosteric binding site (Fig 5).
Here, we described the structural basis for nanomolar uncompetitive inhibition of B. cereus 5/
B/6 metallo-?-lactamase during cefuroxime hydrolysis by a 10-nucleotide DNA aptamer. We
observe that the inhibition pattern of the 10-mer differs substrate-to-substrate (noncompetitive
Fig 6. Steady-state kinetics of cefuroxime hydrolysis by different mutants of 5/B/6 MBL confirms 10-mer binding
site. Activities of three mutant enzymes were compared with the activity of wild type enzyme, where black is the wild
type enzyme, and green, blue, and red correspond to K104Q/K107Q, K78Q, and K78Q/K104Q/K107Q, respectively.
The solid lines represent fits to the Michaelis-Menten equation with the resulting kinetic values reported in Table 2.
Correlation coefficients (R2) of 0.993, 0.981, 0.990, and 0.978 where obtained for wild type, K78Q, K104Q/K107Q, and
K78Q/K104Q/K107Q, respectively. Error bars indicate the standard deviation of five replicates.
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for cephalosporin C , uncompetitive for cefuroxime); thus, the kinetic mechanism details
for the inhibition by the 10-mer are different for the two substrates. Different reaction
mechanisms have been proposed for NDM-1 MBL hydrolysis of carbapenem and cephalosporin
]. Like FEZ-1 MBL, the activity of the 5/B/6 MBL depends in part on the
chemical moiety at the C-7 position of cephalosporin substrates, as the presence of an ?-methoxy
group at C-7 of cefoxitin has a negative effect on 5/B/6 MBL activity when compared to
cephalothin hydrolysis . Other differences could come from the charged groups in
cephalosporins, which could interact electrostatically with the enzyme [
]. The difference in kinetic
mechanism could then be extended to the inhibition pattern of the 10-mer on cephalosporin
antibiotic hydrolysis by 5/B/6 MBL.
Our 2.5 ? crystal structure of aptamer-free 5/B/6 MBL overlays favorably with the structure
of the closely related BcII enzyme (~93% sequence identity; PDB ID: 1BC2; C? r.m.s.d. = 1.08
?). Additionally, our structure also overlays extremely well with the crystal structures of
NDM-1, VIM-2, and IMP-1 MBLs (PDB IDs: 3RKJ, 4NQ2, and 1DDK) with C? r.m.s.d.?s of
1.07, 0.71, and 0.98 ?, respectively, highlighting the highly conserved nature of these folds.
Interestingly, our structure shows that in 5/B/6 MBL Zn2 has a higher B-factor compared to
Zn1, indicating that Zn2 exhibits a partial occupancy in the active site pocket unlike Zn1.
Coupled to this, the active site residue His263 is found to be in two conformations in the X-ray
structure (S6 Fig). This result suggests that His263 plays an important role in directing Zn2 to
its location within the active site by acting as a gate locking Zn2 in place once it is bound. In
fact, molecular dynamics simulations, directed evolution, and NMR relaxation experiments
have suggested that the presence of a glycine residue at position 262, which is present in 5/B/6
MBL, increases the flexibility of His263 and other active site residues, alters the coordination
of the Zn2+ ions, and affects the substrate specificity of the MBL [
Like antibody-antigen binding reactions, aptamers interact with their target through
structural recognition [
]. Usually, unpaired nucleotides in loop or bulge regions of a ssDNA
molecule are involved in recognition of the protein through hydrogen bonding, which imparts
the specificity of the aptamer-protein interaction . Therefore, we hypothesize that the
10-mer in this study also interacts with 5/B/6 MBL through the loop region of its hairpin
structure. Moreover, charged amino acids are generally found on the surface of proteins, and play
many essential roles including the formation of protein-nucleic acid complexes [
compensate for the negatively charged phosphate backbone, the protein-nucleic acid binding
regions are primarily positively charged. For 5/B/6 MBL, the change in chemical shifts (and
therefore the chemical environment) of the three positively charged lysine residues distal from
the active site are indicative of 10-mer interaction at that site (Fig 4A). The shortest distance
between the active site and inhibitor binding site is 25 ?, as measured from His116 to Lys78 ?
too far away for the aptamer to interact directly with both sites. However, any allosteric changes
to the active site must be subtle, as the amide NMR chemical shifts of active site residues are not
perturbed by 10-mer binding. One possibility is that the 10-mer binding could alter
conformational changes or local dynamics around the active site required for catalysis [
57, 67, 68
proposed structural models for the enzyme-inhibitor complex (Fig 5 and S5 Fig) lack
experimental restraints on the 10-mer structure in solution. Clearly, an experimentally derived
structure of the 10-mer and additional restraints between aptamer and 5/B/6 MBL are required to
fully understand the nature of this interaction. Nevertheless, instead of a potential therapeutic,
the 10-mer should be viewed as a tool?the low-resolution models of the complex provided by
the NMR titration and HADDOCK and the mutagenesis data have allowed us to define a novel
allosteric site on this enzyme, which could now be subjected to rational drug design.
Interestingly, five of the six residues in 5/B/6 MBL that were perturbed upon the 10-mer
binding and were used as restraints in the HADDOCK docking simulations are also conserved
13 / 19
in the BcII MBL enzyme?Lys104 is a glutamine in the BcII MBL. This immediately suggests
that the 10-mer will also bind to the BcII MBL, since these enzymes share ~93% sequence
identity. In fact, preliminary studies have shown that the 10-mer does indeed inhibit cephalosporin
antibiotic hydrolysis by the BcII MBL (R.W.S. personal communication). The K104Q/K107Q
double mutation of 5/B/6 MBL, which contains the analogous BcII MBL Gln76 (103), was not
inhibited by the 10-mer aptamer (Table 2). However, this could be due to the additive effect of
losing two charge-charge interactions with the 10-mer; whereas, BcII MBL would retain one.
A more in-depth mutagenesis study is necessary to tease these effects out, while the effect of
the 10-mer on BcII MBL can be directly tested. Sequence alignment of the 340 subclass B1
sequences in the MBLED reveals that the basic residues utilized by the 10-mer for binding to
5/B/6 MBL are each present in ~30% of sequences. Thus, the 10-mer will probably not be a
general inhibitor of subclass B1 MBLs. Nevertheless, given the high degree of structural
similarity between the 5/B/6 MBL, NDM-1, VIM-4, and IMP enzymes, it is tempting to
hypothesize that related allosteric sites also exist within these enzymes. In fact, epitope mapping of
the VIM-4 inhibitory nanobody, which also utilizes an allosteric mechanism for inhibition,
revealed that the nanobody binds VIM-4 MBL on the structurally analogous L6 that contains
residues Lys104 and Lys107, which are perturbed in our NMR titration experiments, in 5/B/6
]. Thus, there is very strong evidence that the allosteric site described herein is a
common motif among several highly transmissible ?-lactam neutralizing metallo-enzymes.
Allosteric drugs are used as therapeutics for several human diseases. The most common
uses of allosteric modulators are for neurotransmitter receptor proteins in central nervous
system disorders. For example, benzodiazepines act as positive modulators to enhance the effect
of ?-amino butyric acid (GABA) by interacting with GABAA receptors; whereas,
6,7-dihydropyrazolo[1,5-a]pyrazin-4(5H)-one acts as the negative modulator of metabotropic glutamate
receptor-2 (mGluR2) [
]. To treat viral infection, use of allosteric inhibitors is also well
established. For example, dasabuvir, an hepatitis C virus NS5B polymerase inhibitor, is used against
chronic viral infection [
], and noncompetitive binding non-nucleotide reverse transcriptase
inhibitors are a critical components of combination therapy used to treat HIV [
development of similar allosteric inhibitors for bacterial enzymes has received attention very
]. The alarming problem of antibiotic resistance has gained considerable interest
and has pushed the discovery of new therapeutic agents to fight against bacterial infection.
Because of the consensus active site architecture, finding effective inhibitors for MBLs have
been mostly limited to orthosteric investigations. Due to their toxicity to the human body,
divalent cation chelating agents specifically for MBLs are impossible to develop [
14, 16, 72,
]. Therefore, targeting allosteric sites for developing new drugs has great potential, as it is
likely that specific allosteric modulators can be found for a unique site on the target protein
that consequently avoids adverse effects to the human host [
S1 Fig. Kinetic assays for Bacillus cereus 5/B/6 metallo-?-lactamase during cefuroxime
hydrolysis. A) Determination of IC50 (120 ? 5 nM) of 10-mer for Bacillus cereus 5/B/6
metallo-?-lactamase during cefuroxime hydrolysis. B) Lineweaver-Burke double reciprocal
plot of the data in Fig 1B highlighting the uncompetitive inhibition pattern.
S2 Fig. Comparison of secondary structure elements derived from solution NMR data with
those of the x-ray crystal structure of 5/B/6 MBL. Prediction of secondary structure elements
from the NMR data was derived from backbone NMR chemical shifts using TALOS+ and are
shown in orange bars for ?-helices and cyan bars for ?-sheets. Grey bars indicate unassigned
14 / 19
residues. Secondary structure elements of 5/B/6 MBL x-ray crystal structure are indicated in
orange rectangles for ?-helices and cyan arrows for ?-sheets. PDB ID: 6DJA was used to
determine secondary structural elements from the crystal structure.
S3 Fig. Solution NMR structure of 5/B/6 MBL. (A) The 1HN, 15N, 13CO, 13C?, and 13C?
chemical shift resonance assignments were submitted to the CS-ROSETTA and 3000
structures were calculated using default parameters. The lowest energy structure is shown here as
a representative of all structures. The zinc ions coordinating the active site residues are not
shown here. (B) Overlay of CS-ROSETTA derived model of 5/B/6 MBL (olive green) and the
X-ray crystal structure (light green), which highlights the similarity of the secondary structure
and the overall fold.
S4 Fig. Overlay of 2D 1H-15N HSQC spectra for the NMR titration of 5/B/6 MBL with the
10-mer aptamer. Green, orange, red, light blue, and dark blue contours represent 0, 0.5, 1.0,
2.0, and 4 M equivalents of 10-mer DNA, respectively, titrated into 0.75 mM 15N-labeled 5/B/6
MBL. Data were collected at 600 MHz and 25 ?C. Assignments are given for peaks in the active
site (His86, His88, Asp90, His149, Cys168 and His210) as well as for peaks that titrated with
10-mer (denoted with arrows that highlight the direction of the chemical shift movement).
S5 Fig. Structural models of the 10-mer-enzyme complex. These models were calculated
through HADDOCK molecular docking. The coloring of secondary structural elements for
the 5/B/6 MBL follows Fig 2, and the red, blue and green sticks denote Lys50, Lys76, and
Lys77, respectively. The 10-mer is shown as salmon sticks and the two Zn2+ ions are light blue
S6 Fig. The two conformational states of His210, an active site residue. These states arise
due to partial occupancy of Zn2. This residue might play some important roles in directing
Zn2 to its binding position, which may act as a gate to hold the Zn1.
We would like to acknowledge Marella D. Canny (TTU) for generating the 5/B/6 MBL
construct in pET29 and for critically reading this manuscript.
Conceptualization: Robert W. Shaw.
Formal analysis: Nazmul H. Khan, Anthony A. Bui, Yang Xiao, R. Bryan Sutton, Michael P.
Funding acquisition: R. Bryan Sutton, Robert W. Shaw, Michael P. Latham.
Investigation: Nazmul H. Khan, Michael P. Latham.
Methodology: Yang Xiao.
Project administration: Robert W. Shaw, Michael P. Latham.
Resources: Benjamin J. Wylie.
15 / 19
Supervision: R. Bryan Sutton, Benjamin J. Wylie, Michael P. Latham.
Visualization: Anthony A. Bui, R. Bryan Sutton, Michael P. Latham.
Writing ? original draft: Nazmul H. Khan, Anthony A. Bui, Benjamin J. Wylie.
Writing ? review & editing: Nazmul H. Khan, Robert W. Shaw, Benjamin J. Wylie, Michael
16 / 19
National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2016; 113(26):E3745?E54. https://doi.
org/10.1073/pnas.1601368113 PMID: 27303030
17 / 19
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