Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 17849014
PLoS ONE 2007;2(9):e885
The first eukaryotic proline racemase (PRAC), isolated from the human Trypanosoma cruzi pathogen, is a validated therapeutic target against Chagas’ disease. This essential enzyme is implicated in parasite life cycle and infectivity and its ability to trigger host B-cell nonspecific hypergammaglobulinemia contributes to parasite evasion and persistence. Using previously identified PRAC signatures and data mining we present the identification and characterization of a novel PRAC and five hydroxyproline epimerases (HyPRE) from pathogenic bacteria. Single-mutation of key HyPRE catalytic cysteine abrogates enzymatic activity supporting the presence of two reaction centers per homodimer. Furthermore, evidences are provided that Brucella abortus PrpA [for ‘proline racemase’ virulence factor A] and homologous proteins from two Brucella spp are bona fide HyPREs and not ‘one way’ directional PRACs as described elsewhere. Although the mechanisms of aminoacid racemization and epimerization are conserved between PRAC and HyPRE, our studies demonstrate that substrate accessibility and specificity partly rely on constraints imposed by aromatic or aliphatic residues distinctively belonging to the catalytic pockets. Analysis of PRAC and HyPRE sequences along with reaction center structural data disclose additional valuable elements for in silico discrimination of the enzymes. Furthermore, similarly to PRAC, the lymphocyte mitogenicity displayed by HyPREs is discussed in the context of bacterial metabolism and pathogenesis. Considering tissue specificity and tropism of infectious pathogens, it would not be surprising if upon infection PRAC and HyPRE play important roles in the regulation of the intracellular and extracellular amino acid pool profiting the microrganism with precursors and enzymatic pathways of the host.