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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Structural basis of 5-nitroimidazole antibiotic resistance: the crystal structure of NimA from Deinococcus radiodurans.

5-Nitroimidazole-based antibiotics are compounds extensively used for treating infections in humans and animals caused by several important pathogens. They are administered as prodrugs, and their activation depends upon an anaerobic 1-electron reduction of the nitro group by a reduction pathway in the cells. Bacterial resistance toward these drugs is thought to be caused by decreased drug uptake and/or an altered reduction efficiency. One class of resistant strains, identified in Bacteroides, has been shown to carry Nim genes (NimA, -B, -C, -D, and -E), which encode for reductases that convert the nitro group on the antibiotic into a non-bactericidal amine. In this paper, we have described the crystal structure of NimA from Deinococcus radiodurans (drNimA) at 1.6 A resolution. We have shown that drNimA is a homodimer in which each monomer adopts a beta-barrel fold. We have identified the catalytically important His-71 along with the cofactor pyruvate and antibiotic binding sites, all of which are found at the monomer-monomer interface. We have reported three additional crystal structures of drNimA, one in which the antibiotic metronidazole is bound to the protein, one with pyruvate covalently bound to His-71, and one with lactate covalently bound to His-71. Based on these structures, a reaction mechanism has been proposed in which the 2-electron reduction of the antibiotic prevents accumulation of the toxic nitro radical. This mechanism suggests that Nim proteins form a new class of reductases, conferring resistance against 5-nitroimidazole-based antibiotics.[1]


  1. Structural basis of 5-nitroimidazole antibiotic resistance: the crystal structure of NimA from Deinococcus radiodurans. Leiros, H.K., Kozielski-Stuhrmann, S., Kapp, U., Terradot, L., Leonard, G.A., McSweeney, S.M. J. Biol. Chem. (2004) [Pubmed]
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