Phosphate limitation is an important environmental stress that affects the metabolism of various organisms and, in particular, can trigger the virulence of numerous bacterial pathogens. Clostridium perfringens, a human pathogen, is one of the most common causes of enteritis necroticans, gas gangrene and food poisoning. Here, we focused on the high affinity phosphate-binding protein (PBP-1) of an ABC-type transporter, responsible for cellular phosphate uptake. We report the crystal structure (1.65 Å resolution) of the protein in complex with phosphate. Interestingly, PBP-1 does not form the short, low-barrier hydrogen bond with phosphate that is typical of previously characterized phosphate-binding proteins, but rather a canonical hydrogen bond. In its unique binding configuration, PBP-1 forms an unusually high number of hydrogen bonds (14) with the phosphate anion. Discrimination experiments reveal that PBP-1 is the least selective PBP characterised so far and is able to discriminate phosphate from its close competing anion, arsenate, by ∼150-fold.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by a grant to EC from ‘‘Agence Nationale pour la Recherche sur le Sida et les Hépatites Virales’’ (grant Nu12264). M.R. and D.G. were supported by grants from AP-HM (Marseille, France).