With the increasing appreciation for the human microbiome coupled with the global rise of antibiotic resistant organisms, it is imperative that new methods be developed to specifically target pathogens. To that end, a novel computational approach was devised to identify compounds that reduce the activity of urease, a medically important enzyme of Helicobacter pylori, Proteus mirabilis, and many other microorganisms. Urease contains a flexible loop that covers its active site; Glide was used to identify small molecules predicted to lock this loop in an open conformation. These compounds were screened against the model urease from Klebsiella aerogenes, and the natural products epigallocatechin and quercetin were shown to inhibit at low and high micromolar concentrations, respectively. These molecules exhibit a strong time-dependent inactivation of urease that was not due to their oxygen sensitivity. Rather, these compounds appear to inactivate urease by reacting with a specific Cys residue located on the flexible loop. Substitution of this cysteine by alanine in the C319A variant increased the urease resistance to both epigallocatechin and quercetin, as predicted by the computational studies. Protein dynamics are integral to the function of many enzymes; thus, identification of compounds that lock an enzyme into a single conformation presents a useful approach to define potential inhibitors.
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© 2015 American Chemical Society.