The toll that Streptococcus pneumoniae exacts on the welfare of humanity is enormous. This organism claims the lives of ∼3700 people daily, the majority of whom are children below the age of 5, and the situation could worsen due to the increasing incidence of pernicious, multiple-antibiotic-resistant strains. Here we report the discovery and characterization of a new allosteric site, shown to be absent in humans, that can be used to switch off an essential pathway in S. pneumoniae, the mevalonate pathway. Diphosphomevalonate (DPM), an intermediate in the pathway, binds with high affinity (Kd = 530 nM) to mevalonate kinase, the first enzyme in the pathway, and inactivates it. Steady-state and equilibrium binding measurements reveal that DPM binding is noncompetitive versus substrates. DPM binds at an allosteric site, and inhibition cannot be overcome by an increasing substrate concentration. The DPM-binding site is a promising target for the development of new antimicrobial agents.
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