FosB is a divalent-metal-dependent thiol-S-transferase implicated in fosfomycin resistance among many pathogenic Gram-positive bacteria. In the present paper, we describe detailed kinetic studies of FosB from Staphylococcus aureus (SaFosB) that confirm that bacillithiol (BSH) is its preferred physiological thiol substrate. SaFosB is the first to be characterized among a new class of enzyme (bacillithiol-S-transferases), which, unlike glutathione transferases, are distributed among many low-G+C Gram-positive bacteria that use BSH instead of glutathione as their major low-molecular-mass thiol. The Km values for BSH and fosfomycin are 4.2 and 17.8 mM respectively. Substrate specificity assays revealed that the thiol and amino groups of BSH are essential for activity, whereas malate is important for SaFosB recognition and catalytic efficiency. Metal activity assays indicated that Mn2+ and Mg2+ are likely to be the relevant cofactors under physiological conditions. The serine analogue of BSH (BOH) is an effective competitive inhibitor of SaFosB with respect to BSH, but uncompetitive with respect to fosfomycin. Coupled with NMR characterization of the reaction product (BS–fosfomycin), this demonstrates that the SaFosB-catalysed reaction pathway involves a compulsory ordered binding mechanism with fosfomycin binding first followed by BSH which then attacks the more sterically hindered C-1 carbon of the fosfomycin epoxide. Disruption of BSH biosynthesis in S. aureus increases sensitivity to fosfomycin. Together, these results indicate that SaFosB is a divalent-metal-dependent bacillithiol-S-transferase that confers fosfomycin resistance on S. aureus.

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