Phytoplasmas are wall-less phytopathogenic bacteria that produce devastating effects in a wide variety of plants. Reductive evolution has shaped their genome, with the loss of many genes, limiting their metabolic capacities. Owing to the high concentration of C4compounds in plants, and the presence of malic enzyme (ME) in all phytoplasma genomes so far sequenced, the oxidative decarboxylation of L-malate might represent an adaptation to generate energy. Aster yellows witches'-broom (CandidatusPhytoplasma) ME (AYWB-ME) is one of the smallest of all characterized MEs, yet retains full enzymatic activity. Here, the crystal structure of AYWB-ME is reported, revealing a unique fold that differs from those of `canonical' MEs. AYWB-ME is organized as a dimeric species formed by intertwining of the N-terminal domains of the protomers. As a consequence of such structural differences, key catalytic residues such as Tyr36 are positioned in the active site of each protomer but are provided by the other protomer of the dimer. A Tyr36Ala mutation abolishes the catalytic activity, indicating the key importance of this residue in the catalytic process but not in the dimeric assembly. Phylogenetic analyses suggest that larger MEs (large-subunit or chimeric MEs) might have evolved from this type of smaller scaffold by gaining small sequence cassettes or an entire functional domain. TheCandidatusPhytoplasma AYWB-ME structure showcases a novel minimal structure design comprising a fully functional active site, making this enzyme an attractive starting point for rational genetic design.
Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus is a fastidious prokaryotic α-proteobacterium that has not been cultured as yet. It is the causative agent of Citrus Huanglongbing (HLB) is a disease that infects citrus plants causing huge losses to the citrus industry. The plants employ a variety of defense mechanisms to combat the pathogen attack which mainly involves the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) mainly hydrogen peroxide, peroxynitrite and organic hydroperoxides. The microbe on the other hand has antioxidant proteins that counter the reactive oxygen species. Peroxiredoxin (Prx) which is known to play a crucial role in peroxide detoxification is a super family of one of such antioxidant proteins. In this work, we have determined the crystal structure of Bacterioferritin Comigratory Protein (BCP) that belongs to 1-Cys Prx enzyme having peroxidatic/sulfenic acid cysteine (C-47) but lacks the resolving cysteine. Furthermore, we are investigating structural aspects to gain insight into the binding of different peroxide substrates at the active site. Site directed mutagenesis has been done to introduce the non-conserved resolving cysteine to study its effect on peroxidase activity in both wild type and mutant form. Biochemically, both BCP 1-cys and BCP 2-cys have shown peroxidase activity. DNA protection activity against oxidative damage and cell-line based assays has implicated its protective role towards the hypoxic condition of cells. Hence, the protein becomes a lucrative target for ligands which might be potential antimicrobials.