Structural Basis for Protein Recognition, Acyl-substrate Delivery, and Product Release by ACP in the Biosynthesis of Lipid A

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats



Acyl-carrier-protein (ACP) is the principal transporter of fatty acids, coordinating acyl-transfer among a vast network of diverse enzymes and biochemical processes. ACP association with protein partners is thought to be exceedingly transient. This paradigm has posed challenges for understanding the molecular basis for acyl-delivery and dissociation. During biosynthesis of the lipid A component (endotoxin) of lipopolysaccharides, ACP shuttles acyl-intermediates thioester-linked to its 4'-phosphopantetheine arm among four acyltransferases: LpxA, LpxD, LpxL, and LpxM. LpxA and LpxD are essential cytoplasmic enzymes, which not only provide an excellent model system to study ACP-based interaction, but also offer an important therapeutic target for development of novel antibiotics. The current dissertation reports the crystal structures of three forms of Escherichia coli ACP engaging LpxD, which represent stalled substrate and breakage products along the reaction coordinate. The structures reveal the intricate interactions at the interface that optimally position ACP for acyl-delivery and directly involve the pantetheinyl group. Conformational differences among the stalled ACPs provide the molecular basis for the association-dissociation process. An unanticipated conformational shift of 4'-phosphopantetheine groups within the LpxD catalytic chamber reveals an unprecedented role of ACP in product release. Moreover, the crystal structure of E. coli LpxA in complex with one form of ACP (holo-ACP) is presented. The structure reveals three molecules of holo-ACP localize to the C-terminal domain of the LpxA homotrimer, and shows the functional role of this domain is two-fold: ACP recognition and nucleotide binding of UDP-GlcNAc. A comparison with the LpxD:ACP complexes uncovers that ACP utilizes different surface residues for recognition even amongst closely related acyltransferases, yet still relies on "electrostatic steering" for docking to its enzyme partner. Insights gleaned from the presented structures have provided not only a better understanding of ACP interaction with acyltransferases, but also has identified the "drugable molecular landscape" for the development of novel antibiotics against infective bacteria.






Masoudi, S. Ali (2014). Structural Basis for Protein Recognition, Acyl-substrate Delivery, and Product Release by ACP in the Biosynthesis of Lipid A. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.