Structural characterization of three novel hydroxamate-based zinc chelating inhibitors of the clostridium botulinum serotype a neurotoxin light chain metalloprotease reveals a compact binding site resulting from 60/70 loop flexibility
Neurotoxins synthesized by Clostridium botulinum bacteria (BoNT), the etiological agent of human botulism, are extremely toxic proteins making them high-risk agents for bioterrorism. Small molecule inhibitor development has been focused on the light chain zinc-dependent metalloprotease domain of the neurotoxin, an effort that has been hampered by its relatively flexible active site. Developed in concert with structure--activity relationship studies, the X-ray crystal structures of the complex of BoNT serotype A light chain (BoNT/A LC) with three different micromolar-potency hydroxamate-based inhibitors are reported here. Comparison with an unliganded BoNT/A LC structure reveals significant changes in the active site as a result of binding by the unique inhibitor scaffolds. The 60/70 loop at the opening of the active site pocket undergoes the largest conformational change, presumably through an induced-fit mechanism, resulting in the most compact catalytic pocket observed in all known BoNT/A LC structures.