DNA topoisomerases are ubiquitous enzymes involved in DNA replication, transcription and recombination. It is well known that trapping of covalent complexes formed between cleaved DNA and type II or type IB DNA topoisomerases by therapeutic agents leads to the killing of cancer or bacterial cells. The class of type IA DNA topoisomerases is a promising target for novel therapeutic agents, but molecules targeting type IA DNA topoisomerases have not been discovered. We have identified a mutant of Yersinia pestis topoisomerase I that can result in extensive killing when expressed in E. coli cells due to the stabilization of the covalent complex with cleaved DNA. This is the first demonstration of bacterial cell killing from accumulated covalent complex formed by a type IA DNA topoisomerase.
The specific aims of the project are: 1. A high-through-put assay will be utilized at the NSRB facility at Harvard Medical School to screen the 150,000 compounds available for small molecules that will result in accumulation of covalent complex formed by recombinant Yersinia pestis topoisomerase I. Hits will be characterized by in vitro topoisomerase assay and bacterial cell killing and further developed in collaboration with medicinal chemists at NSRB. 2. To investigate the mechanism of bacterial cell killing by stabilized type IA DNA topoisomerase covalent complex, E. coli expressing the mutant Y. pestis topoisomerase I that forms the stabilized covalent complex will be studied. Sensitivity to topoisomerase I induced DNA lesion will be compared under different growth conditions to determine the role of DNA replication and protein synthesis in the cell killing mechanism. 3. To identify other factors influencing the susceptibility of bacteria to killing by trapped type IA topoisomerase cleaved complex, E. coli strains with mutations in recombination and repair pathways will be studied. An E. coli genomic library in a multi-copy plasmid will be used to identify proteins that when expressed in a higher level, can confer resistance to topoisomerase I mediated cell killing. Transposon mutagenesis will be carried out to screen for mutants with increased sensitivity or resistance to the cell killing. ? ? The emergence of pathogenic bacteria resistant to all common antibiotics represents a critical challenge in public health. Future terrorist attacks employing bacterial pathogens could involve agents resistant to current antibiotics. This research has the potential to lead to the discovery of a novel class of antibiotics. ? ? ?
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