Targeting Infectious Disease : Structural and functional studies of proteins from two RNA viruses and Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Abstract: The recent emergence of a number of new viral diseases as well as the re-emergence of tuberculosis (TB), indicate an urgent need for new drugs against viral and bacterial infections.Coronavirus nsp1 has been shown to induce suppression of host gene expression and interfere with host immune response. However, the mechanism behind this is currently unknown. Here we present the first nsp1 structure from an alphacoronavirus, Transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV) nsp1. Contrary to previous speculation, the TGEV nsp1 structure clearly shows that alpha- and betacoronavirus nsp1s have a common evolutionary origin. However, differences in conservation, shape and surface electrostatics indicate that the mechanism for nsp1-induced suppression of host mRNA translation is likely to be different in the alpha- and betacoronavirus genera.The Modoc virus is a neuroinvasive rodent virus with similar pathology as flavivirus encephalitis in humans. The flaviviral methyltransferase catalyses the two methylations required to complete 5´ mRNA capping, essential for mRNA stability and translation. The structure of the Modoc NS5 methyltransferase domain was determined in complex with its cofactor S-adenosyl-L-methionine. The observed methyltransferase conservation between Modoc and other flaviviral branches, indicates that it may be possible to identify drugs that target a range of flaviviruses and supports the use of Modoc virus as a model for general flaviviral studies.1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate reductoisomerase (DXR) is part of the methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway that produces essential precursors for isoprenoid biosynthesis. This pathway is used by a number of pathogens, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Plasmodium falciparum, but it is not present in humans. Using a structure-based approach, we designed a number of MtDXR inhibitors, including a novel fosmidomycin-analogue that exhibited improved activity against P.falciparum in an in vitro blood cell growth assay. The approach also allowed the first design of an inhibitor that bridge both DXR substrate and co-factor binding sites, providing a stepping-stone for further optimization.