Protein Sci. 29 (4) 991-1003 [2020-04-00; online 2020-02-07]
Procedures for producing and exploring Trypanosoma cruzi farnesyl pyrophosphate synthase (tcFPPS) for surface plasmon resonance (SPR) biosensor-driven fragment-based discovery have been established. The method requires functional sensor surfaces with high sensitivity for extended times and appropriate controls. Initial problems with protein stability and lack of useful reference compounds motivated optimization of experimental procedures and conditions. The improved methods enabled the production of pure, folded and dimeric protein, and identified procedures for storage and handling. A new coupled enzymatic assay, using luciferase for detection of pyrophosphate, was developed and used to confirm that the purified enzyme was active after purification and storage. It also confirmed that sensor surfaces prepared with structurally intact protein was active. An SPR-biosensor assay for fragment library screening and hit confirmation was developed. A thermal shift assay was used in parallel. A library of 90 fragments was efficiently screened by both assays at a single concentration in the presence and absence of the catalytic cofactor Mg2+ . Hits were selected on the basis of response levels or ΔT m > 1°C and selectivity for tcFPPS in the presence of Mg2+ . Characterization of hits by SPR showed that all had low affinities and the relationships between steady-state responses and concentrations were not sufficiently hyperbolic for determination of KD -values. Instead, ranking could be performed from the slope of the linear relationship at low concentrations. This pilot screen confirms that the procedures developed herein enables SPR-biosensor driven fragment-based discovery of leads targeting tcFPPS, despite the lack of a reference compound. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: To enable the discovery of drugs, it is essential to have access to relevant forms of the target protein and valid biochemical methods for studying the protein and effects of compounds that may be evolved into drugs. We have established methods for the discovery of drugs for treatment of American Trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), using farnesyl pyrophosphate synthase from Trypanosoma cruzi as a target.