The last step of cysteine biosynthesis in bacteria and plants is catalyzed by O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase. In bacteria, two isozymes, O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase-A and O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase-B, have been identified that share similar binding sites, although the respective specific functions are still debated. O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase plays a key role in the adaptation of bacteria to the host environment, in the defense mechanisms to oxidative stress and in antibiotic resistance. Because mammals synthesize cysteine from methionine and lack O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase, the enzyme is a potential target for antimicrobials. With this aim, we first identified potential inhibitors of the two isozymes via a ligand- and structure-based in silico screening of a subset of the ZINC library using FLAP. The binding affinities of the most promising candidates were measured in vitro on purified O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase-A and O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase-B from Salmonella typhimurium by a direct method that exploits the change in the cofactor fluorescence. Two molecules were identified with dissociation constants of 3.7 and 33 mM for O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase-A and O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase-B, respectively. Because GRID analysis of the two isoenzymes indicates the presence of a few common pharmacophoric features, cross binding titrations were carried out. It was found that the best binder for O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase-B exhibits a dissociation constant of 29 mM for O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase-A, thus displaying a limited selectivity, whereas the best binder for O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase-A exhibits a dissociation constant of 50 mM for O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase-B and is thus 8-fold selective towards the former isozyme. Therefore, isoform-specific and isoform-independent ligands allow to either selectively target the isozyme that predominantly supports bacteria during infection and long-term survival or to completely block bacterial cysteine biosynthesis.
Isozyme-specific ligands for O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase, a novel antibiotic target / Spyrakis F; Singh R; Cozzini P; Campanini B; Salsi E; Felici P; Raboni S; Benedetti P; Cruciani G; Kellogg GE; Cook PF; Mozzarelli A.. - In: PLOS ONE. - ISSN 1932-6203. - 8:10(2013), pp. 1-13. [10.1371/journal.pone.0077558]