National Research Council of Canada. Human Health Therapeutics
The causative agent of tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is a bacterium with a complex cell wall and a complicated life cycle. The genome of M. tuberculosis contains well over 4000 genes thought to encode proteins. One of these codes for a putative enzyme referred to as Rv3404c, which has attracted research attention as a potential virulence factor for over 12 years. Here we demonstrate that Rv3404c functions as a sugar N-formyltransferase that converts dTDP-4-amino-4,6-dideoxyglucose into dTDP-4-formamido-4,6-dideoxyglucose using N10-formyltetrahydrofolate as the carbon source. Kinetic analyses demonstrate that Rv3404c displays a significant catalytic efficiency of 1.1 × 104 M–1 s–1. In addition, we report the X-ray structure of a ternary complex of Rv3404c solved in the presence of N5-formyltetrahydrofolate and dTDP-4-amino-4,6-dideoxyglucose. The final model of Rv3404c was refined to an overall R-factor of 16.8% at 1.6 Å resolution. The results described herein are especially intriguing given that there have been no published reports of N-formylated sugars associated with M. tuberculosis. The data thus provide a new avenue of research into this fascinating, yet deadly, organism that apparently has been associated with human infection since ancient times.