Research Article

Structures of cell wall arabinosyltransferases with the anti-tuberculosis drug ethambutol

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Science  23 Apr 2020:
eaba9102
DOI: 10.1126/science.aba9102

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Abstract

The arabinosyltransferases EmbA, EmbB, and EmbC are involved in Mycobacterium tuberculosis cell wall synthesis and are recognized as the targets for the anti-tuberculosis drug ethambutol. We have determined cryo-electron microscopy and x-ray crystal structures of mycobacterial EmbA-EmbB and EmbC-EmbC complexes, in the presence of their glycosyl donor and acceptor substrates and with ethambutol. These structures show how the donor and acceptor substrates bind in the active site and how ethambutol inhibits by binding to the same site as both substrates in EmbB and EmbC. The majority of drug-resistant mutations are located nearby to the ethambutol-binding site. Collectively, our work provides a structural basis for understanding the biochemical function and inhibition of arabinosyltransferases and development of new anti-tuberculosis agents.

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