Structural Insight into Substrate Selectivity of Erwinia chrysanthemi L-asparaginase.
ABSTRACT: l-Asparaginases of bacterial origin are a mainstay of acute lymphoblastic leukemia treatment. The mechanism of action of these enzyme drugs is associated with their capacity to deplete the amino acid l-asparagine from the blood. However, clinical use of bacterial l-asparaginases is complicated by their dual l-asparaginase and l-glutaminase activities. The latter, even though representing only ?10% of the overall activity, is partially responsible for the observed toxic side effects. Hence, l-asparaginases devoid of l-glutaminase activity hold potential as safer drugs. Understanding the key determinants of l-asparaginase substrate specificity is a prerequisite step toward the development of enzyme variants with reduced toxicity. Here we present crystal structures of the Erwinia chrysanthemi l-asparaginase in complex with l-aspartic acid and with l-glutamic acid. These structures reveal two enzyme conformations-open and closed-corresponding to the inactive and active states, respectively. The binding of ligands induces the positioning of the catalytic Thr15 into its active conformation, which in turn allows for the ordering and closure of the flexible N-terminal loop. Notably, l-aspartic acid is more efficient than l-glutamic acid in inducing the active positioning of Thr15. Structural elements explaining the preference of the enzyme for l-asparagine over l-glutamine are discussed with guidance to the future development of more specific l-asparaginases.
Project description:Current FDA-approved l-asparaginases also possess significant l-glutaminase activity, which correlates with many of the toxic side effects of these drugs. Therefore, l-asparaginases with reduced l-glutaminase activity are predicted to be safer. We exploited our recently described structures of the Erwinia chrysanthemi l-asparaginase (ErA) to inform the design of mutants with diminished ability to hydrolyze l-glutamine. Structural analysis of these variants provides insight into the molecular basis for the increased l-asparagine specificity. A primary role is attributed to the E63Q mutation that acts to hinder the correct positioning of l-glutamine but not l-asparagine. The substitution of Ser-254 with either an asparagine or a glutamine increases the l-asparagine specificity but only when combined with the E63Q mutation. The A31I mutation reduces the substrate Km value; this is a key property to allow the required therapeutic l-asparagine depletion. Significantly, an ultra-low l-glutaminase ErA variant maintained its cell killing ability. By diminishing the l-glutaminase activity of these highly active l-asparaginases, our engineered ErA variants hold promise as l-asparaginases with fewer side effects.
Project description:Many side effects of current FDA-approved L-asparaginases have been related to their secondary L-glutaminase activity. The Wolinella succinogenes L-asparaginase (WoA) has been reported to be L-glutaminase free, suggesting it would have fewer side effects. Unexpectedly, the WoA variant with a proline at position 121 (WoA-P121) was found to have L-glutaminase activity in contrast to Uniprot entry P50286 (WoA-S121) that has a serine residue at this position. Towards understanding how this residue impacts the L-glutaminase property, kinetic analysis was coupled with crystal structure determination of these WoA variants. WoA-S121 was confirmed to have much lower L-glutaminase activity than WoA-P121, yet both showed comparable L-asparaginase activity. Structures of the WoA variants in complex with L-aspartic acid versus L-glutamic acid provide insights into their differential substrate selectivity. Structural analysis suggests a mechanism by which residue 121 impacts the conformation of the conserved tyrosine 27, a component of the catalytically-important flexible N-terminal loop. Surprisingly, we could fully model this loop in either its open or closed conformations, revealing the roles of specific residues of an evolutionary conserved motif among this L-asparaginase family. Together, this work showcases critical residues that influence the ability of the flexible N-terminal loop for adopting its active conformation, thereby effecting substrate specificity.
Project description:The L-asparaginases from Escherichia coli and Erwinia chrysanthemi are effective drugs that have been used in the treatment of acute childhood lymphoblastic leukaemia for over 30 years. However, despite their therapeutic potential, they can cause serious side effects as a consequence of their intrinsic glutaminase activity, which leads to L-glutamine depletion in the blood. Consequently, new asparaginases with low glutaminase activity, fewer side effects and high activity towards L-asparagine are highly desirable as better alternatives in cancer therapy. L-Asparaginase from Helicobacter pylori was overexpressed in E. coli and purified for structural studies. The enzyme was crystallized at pH 7.0 in the presence of 16-19%(w/v) PEG 4000 and 0.1 M magnesium formate. Data were collected to 1.6 A resolution at 100 K from a single crystal at a synchrotron-radiation source. The crystals belong to space group I222, with unit-cell parameters a = 63.6, b = 94.9, c = 100.2 A and one molecule of L-asparaginase in the asymmetric unit. Elucidation of the crystal structure will provide insight into the active site of the enzyme and a better understanding of the structure-activity relationship in L-asparaginases.
Project description:This study describes the production of native l-asparaginases by submerged fermentation from Aspergillus strains and provides the biochemical characterization, kinetic and thermodynamic parameters of the three ones that stood out for high l-asparaginase production. For comparison, the commercial fungal l-asparaginase was also studied. Both commercial and l-asparaginase from Aspergillus oryzae CCT 3940 showed optimum activity and stability in the pH range from 5 to 8 and the asparaginase from Aspergillus niger LBA 02 was stable in a more alkaline pH range. About the kinetic parameters, the denaturation constant increased with the heating temperature for all l-asparaginases, indicating that the l-asparaginase activity decreased at higher temperatures, especially above 60 °C. Moreover, l-asparaginase from A. oryzae CCT 3940 remained stable after 60 min at 50 °C. None of the l-asparaginases were inhibited by high NaCl concentrations, which are highly desirable for food industry application. The catalytic activities of all the l-asparaginases were enhanced by the presence of Mn2+ and inhibited by p-chloromercuribenzoate and iodoacetamide. The l-asparaginase from the Aspergillus strains and the commercial enzyme had similar K m when l-asparagine was used as substrate. None of the l-asparaginases, except the l-asparaginase from A. niger LBA 02, could hydrolyze the substrate l-glutamine, which is of interest for medical proposes, since the glutaminase activity is usually related to adverse reaction during the leukemia treatment. This study showed that these new three non-recombinant l-asparaginases studied have potential application in the food and pharmaceutical industries, especially due to their good thermostability.
Project description:Bacterial L-asparaginases have been used as anti-cancer drugs for over 4 decades though presenting, along with their therapeutic efficacy, several side effects due to their bacterial origin and, seemingly, to their secondary glutaminase activity. Helicobacter pylori type II L-asparaginase possesses interesting features, among which a reduced catalytic efficiency for L-GLN, compared to the drugs presently used in therapy. In the present study, we describe some enzyme variants with catalytic and in vitro cytotoxic activities different from the wild type enzyme. Particularly, replacements on catalytic threonines (T16D and T95E) deplete the enzyme of both its catalytic activities, once more underlining the essential role of such residues. One serendipitous mutant, M121C/T169M, had a preserved efficiency vs L-asparagine but was completely unable to carry out L-glutamine hydrolysis. Interestingly, this variant did not exert any cytotoxic effect on HL-60 cells. The M121C and T169M single mutants had reduced catalytic activities (nearly 2.5- to 4-fold vs wild type enzyme, respectively). Mutant Q63E, endowed with a similar catalytic efficiency versus asparagine and halved glutaminase efficiency with respect to the wild type enzyme, was able to exert a cytotoxic effect comparable to, or higher than, the one of the wild type enzyme when similar asparaginase units were used. These findings may be relevant to determine the role of glutaminase activity of L-asparaginase in the anti-proliferative effect of the drug and to shed light on how to engineer the best asparaginase/glutaminase combination for an ever improved, patients-tailored therapy.
Project description:Asparaginases catalyze the hydrolysis of the amino acid asparagine to aspartate and ammonia. Bacterial asparaginases are used in cancer chemotherapy to deplete asparagine from the blood, because several hematological malignancies depend on extracellular asparagine for growth. To avoid the immune response against the bacterial enzymes, it would be beneficial to replace them with human asparaginases. However, unlike the bacterial asparaginases, the human enzymes have a millimolar K(m) value for asparagine, making them inefficient in depleting the amino acid from blood. To facilitate the development of human variants suitable for therapeutic use, we determined the structure of human l-asparaginase (hASNase3). This asparaginase is an N-terminal nucleophile (Ntn) family member that requires autocleavage between Gly167 and Thr168 to become catalytically competent. For most Ntn hydrolases, this autoproteolytic activation occurs efficiently. In contrast, hASNas3 is relatively stable in its uncleaved state, and this allowed us to observe the structure of the enzyme prior to cleavage. To determine the structure of the cleaved state, we exploited our discovery that the free amino acid glycine promotes complete cleavage of hASNase3. Both enzyme states were elucidated in the absence and presence of the product aspartate. Together, these structures provide insight into the conformational changes required for cleavage and the precise enzyme-substrate interactions. The new understanding of hASNase3 will serve to guide the design of variants that possess a decreased K(m) value for asparagine, making the human enzyme a suitable replacement for the bacterial asparaginases in cancer therapy.
Project description:Our long-term goal is the design of a human l-asparaginase (hASNase3) variant, suitable for use in cancer therapy without the immunogenicity problems associated with the currently used bacterial enzymes. Asparaginases catalyze the hydrolysis of the amino acid asparagine to aspartate and ammonia. The key property allowing for the depletion of blood asparagine by bacterial asparaginases is their low micromolar KM value. In contrast, human enzymes have a millimolar KM for asparagine. Toward the goal of engineering an hASNase3 variant with micromolar KM, we conducted a structure/function analysis of the conserved catalytic threonine triad of this human enzyme. As a member of the N-terminal nucleophile family, to become enzymatically active, hASNase3 must undergo autocleavage between residues Gly167 and Thr168. To determine the individual contribution of each of the three conserved active-site threonines (threonine triad Thr168, Thr186, Thr219) for the enzyme-activating autocleavage and asparaginase reactions, we prepared the T168S, T186V and T219A/V mutants. These mutants were tested for their ability to cleave and to catalyze asparagine hydrolysis, in addition to being examined structurally. We also elucidated the first N-terminal nucleophile plant-type asparaginase structure in the covalent intermediate state. Our studies indicate that, while not all triad threonines are required for the cleavage reaction, all are essential for the asparaginase activity. The increased understanding of hASNase3 function resulting from these studies reveals the key regions that govern cleavage and the asparaginase reaction, which may inform the design of variants that attain a low KM for asparagine.
Project description:Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium avoids clearance by the host immune system by suppressing T cell responses; however, the mechanisms that mediate this immunosuppression remain unknown. We show that S. Typhimurium inhibit T cell responses by producing L-Asparaginase II, which catalyzes the hydrolysis of L-asparagine to aspartic acid and ammonia. L-Asparaginase II is necessary and sufficient to suppress T cell blastogenesis, cytokine production, and proliferation and to downmodulate expression of the T cell receptor. Furthermore, S. Typhimurium-induced inhibition of T cells in vitro is prevented upon addition of L-asparagine. S. Typhimurium lacking the L-Asparaginase II gene (STM3106) are unable to inhibit T cell responses and exhibit attenuated virulence in vivo. L-Asparaginases are used to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia through mechanisms that likely involve amino acid starvation of leukemic cells, and these findings indicate that pathogens similarly use L-asparagine deprivation to limit T cell responses.
Project description:l-Asparaginase (EC 220.127.116.11) was first used as a component of combination drug therapies to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a cancer of the blood and bone marrow, almost 50 years ago. Administering this enzyme to reduce asparagine levels in the blood is a cornerstone of modern clinical protocols for ALL; indeed, this remains the only successful example of a therapy targeted against a specific metabolic weakness in any form of cancer. Three problems, however, constrain the clinical use of l-asparaginase. First, a type II bacterial variant of l-asparaginase is administered to patients, the majority of whom are children, which produces an immune response thereby limiting the time over which the enzyme can be tolerated. Second, l-asparaginase is subject to proteolytic degradation in the blood. Third, toxic side effects are observed, which may be correlated with the l-glutaminase activity of the enzyme. This Perspective will outline how asparagine depletion negatively impacts the growth of leukemic blasts, discuss the structure and mechanism of l-asparaginase, and briefly describe the clinical use of chemically modified forms of clinically useful l-asparaginases, such as Asparlas, which was recently given FDA approval for use in children (babies to young adults) as part of multidrug treatments for ALL. Finally, we review ongoing efforts to engineer l-asparaginase variants with improved therapeutic properties and briefly detail emerging, alternate strategies for the treatment of forms of ALL that are resistant to asparagine depletion.