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Keywords:

  • peptide deformylase;
  • co-crystallization;
  • microseeding.

In bacteria the biosynthesis of all nascent polypeptides begins with N-formylmethionine. The post-translational removal of the N-formyl group is carried out by peptide deformylase (PDF). Processing of the N-formyl group from critical bacterial proteins is required for cell survival. This formylation/deformylation cycle is unique to eubacteria and is not utilized in eucaryotic cytosolic protein biosynthesis. Thus, inhibition of PDF would halt bacterial growth, spare host cell-function, and would be a novel mechanism for a new class of antibiotic. Diffraction-quality Se-met crystals of S. aureus PDF were prepared that belong to space group C2221 with unit cell parameters of a = 94.1 b = 121.9 c = 47.6 Å. Multiple anomalous dispersion data were collected at the Advanced Photon Source 17-ID beamline and used to solve the PDF structure to 1.9 Å resolution. Crystals were also prepared with three PDF inhibitors: thiorphan, actinonin and PNU-172550. The thiorphan and actinonin co-crystals belong to space group C2221 with similar unit-cell dimensions. Repeated attempts to generate a complex structure of PDF with PNU-172550 from the orthorhombic space group were unsuccessful. Crystallization screening identified an alternate C2 crystal form with unit-cell dimensions of a = 93.4 b = 42.5 c = 104.1 Å, β = 93°.