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Inhibition of Neisseria meningitidis Sialic Acid Synthase by a Tetrahedral Intermediate Analogue

TitleInhibition of Neisseria meningitidis Sialic Acid Synthase by a Tetrahedral Intermediate Analogue
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsLiu, F, Lee, HJ, Strynadka, NCJ, Tanner, ME
Date PublishedOct
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0006-2960

The Neisseria meningitidis sialic acid synthase (NeuB) catalyzes the metal-dependent condensation of N-acetylmannosamine (ManNAc) and phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP) to generate N-acetylneuraminic acid (NeuAc or sialic acid). N. meningitidis is a causative agent of meningitis and produces a capsular polysaccharide comprised of polysialic acid. This allows it to evade the immune system of the host by an act of molecular mimicry. This work describes the synthesis and characterization of the first potent inhibitor or sialic acid synthase. The inhibitor is a stable deoxy analogue of the tetrahedral intermediate presumed to form in the NeuB reaction and was synthesized as a mixture of stercoisomers at the key tetrahedral center. Inhibition studies demonstrate that one stereoisomer binds more tightly than the other and that the more potent isomer binds with micromolar affinity. An X-ray crystallographic analysis of the NeuB center dot inhibitor center dot Mn2+ complex solved to a resolution of 1.75 angstrom shows that the more tightly bound stereolsomer bears a (2R)-configuration. This suggests that the tetrahedral intermediate formed in the NeuB reaction also bears a (2R)-configuration. This analysis is consistent with a mechanism whereby the active site metal plays at least two roles during catalysis. First, it serves as an electrostatic catalyst and activates the aldehyde of ManNAc for attack by the alkene of PEP. Second, it serves as a source of nucleophilic water and delivers it to the si face of the oxcicarbenium intermediate to generate a tetrahedral intermediate with a (2R)-configuration.