Molecular insight on the non-covalent interactions between carbapenems and l,d-transpeptidase 2 from Mycobacterium tuberculosis: ONIOM study

Thandokuhle Ntombela, Zeynab Fakhar, Collins U. Ibeji, Thavendran Govender, Glenn E.M. Maguire, Gyanu Lamichhane, Hendrik G. Kruger, Bahareh Honarparvar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Abstract: Tuberculosis remains a dreadful disease that has claimed many human lives worldwide and elimination of the causative agent Mycobacterium tuberculosis also remains elusive. Multidrug-resistant TB is rapidly increasing worldwide; therefore, there is an urgent need for improving the current antibiotics and novel drug targets to successfully curb the TB burden. l,d-Transpeptidase 2 is an essential protein in Mtb that is responsible for virulence and growth during the chronic stage of the disease. Both d,d- and l,d-transpeptidases are inhibited concurrently to eradicate the bacterium. It was recently discovered that classic penicillins only inhibit d,d-transpeptidases, while l,d-transpeptidases are blocked by carbapenems. This has contributed to drug resistance and persistence of tuberculosis. Herein, a hybrid two-layered ONIOM (B3LYP/6-31G+(d): AMBER) model was used to extensively investigate the binding interactions of LdtMt2 complexed with four carbapenems (biapenem, imipenem, meropenem, and tebipenem) to ascertain molecular insight of the drug-enzyme complexation event. In the studied complexes, the carbapenems together with catalytic triad active site residues of LdtMt2 (His187, Ser188 and Cys205) were treated at with QM [B3LYP/6-31+G(d)], while the remaining part of the complexes were treated at MM level (AMBER force field). The resulting Gibbs free energy (ΔG), enthalpy (ΔH) and entropy (ΔS) for all complexes showed that the carbapenems exhibit reasonable binding interactions towards LdtMt2. Increasing the number of amino acid residues that form hydrogen bond interactions in the QM layer showed significant impact in binding interaction energy differences and the stabilities of the carbapenems inside the active pocket of LdtMt2. The theoretical binding free energies obtained in this study reflect the same trend of the experimental observations. The electrostatic, hydrogen bonding and Van der Waals interactions between the carbapenems and LdtMt2 were also assessed. To further examine the nature of intermolecular interactions for carbapenem–LdtMt2 complexes, AIM and NBO analysis were performed for the QM region (carbapenems and the active residues of LdtMt2) of the complexes. These analyses revealed that the hydrogen bond interactions and charge transfer from the bonding to anti-bonding orbitals between catalytic residues of the enzyme and selected ligands enhances the binding and stability of carbapenem–LdtMt2 complexes. Graphical abstract: The two-layered ONIOM (B3LYP/6-31+G(d): Amber) model was used to evaluate the efficacy of FDA approved carbapenems antibiotics towards LdtMt2. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)687-701
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Computer-Aided Molecular Design
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


  • Carbapenems
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis)
  • Natural bond orbital (NBO)
  • Our own N-layered integrated molecular orbital and molecular mechanics (ONIOM)
  • Quantum theory of atoms in molecules (QTAIM)
  • Tuberculosis (TB)
  • l,d-Transpeptidase 2 (Ldt)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

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