Identification, cloning, and expression of the Escherichia coli pyrazinamidase and nicotinamidase gene, pncA.
Pyrazinamide (PZA) is one of the three most important drugs for treatment of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infections. The antibacterial activity of PZA requires a bacterial enzyme, pyrazinamidase (PZAase), which hydrolyzes PZA to form pyrazinoic acid and ammonia. Most PZA-resistant clinical M. tuberculosis isolates lack PZAase activity. With the goal of eventually identifying and characterizing the M.tuberculosis PZAase gene, we began with the more tractable organism, Escherichia coli, which also has PZAase activity. We screened a transposon-generated E. coli insertion mutant library, using a qualitative PZAase assay. Two PZAase-negative mutants out of 4,000 colonies screened were identified. In each mutant, the transposon interrupted the same 639-bp open reading frame (ORF), ORF1. The expression of ORF1 on a multicopy plasmid complemented a PZAase-negative mutant, leading to PZAase activity levels approximately 10-fold greater than those of the wild type. PZA has a structure similar to that of nicotinamide, a pyridine nucleotide cycle intermediate, so we tested our strains for nicotinamidase activity (EC 18.104.22.168) (genetic locus pncA). The construct with multiple plasmid copies of ORF1 had an approximately 10-fold increase in levels of nicotinamidase activity. This overexpressing strain could utilize nicotinamide as a sole nitrogen source, through wild-type E. coli cannot. We conclude that a single E. coli enzyme accounts for both PZAase and nicotinamidase activities and that ORF1 is the E.coli PZAase and nicotinamidase gene, pncA.
Frothingham, R; Meeker-O'Connell, WA; Talbot, EA; George, JW; Kreuzer, KN
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