Vancomycin resistance: structure of D-alanine:D-alanine ligase at 2.3 A resolution

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Science  21 Oct 1994:
Vol. 266, Issue 5184, pp. 439-443
DOI: 10.1126/science.7939684


The molecular structure of the D-alanine:D-alanine ligase of the ddlB gene of Escherichia coli, co-crystallized with an S,R-methylphosphinate and adenosine triphosphate, was determined by x-ray diffraction to a resolution of 2.3 angstroms. A catalytic mechanism for the ligation of two D-alanine substrates is proposed in which a helix dipole and a hydrogen-bonded triad of tyrosine, serine, and glutamic acid assist binding and deprotonation steps. From sequence comparison, it is proposed that a different triad exists in a recently discovered D-alanine:D-lactate ligase (VanA) present in vancomycin-resistant enterococci. A molecular mechanism for the altered specificity of VanA is suggested.