Antibiotic kinases, which include aminoglycoside and macrolide phosphotransferases (APHs and MPHs), pose a serious threat to currently used antimicrobial therapies. These enzymes show structural and functional homology with Ser/Thr/Tyr kinases, which is suggestive of a common ancestor. Surprisingly, recent
in vitrostudies using purified antibiotic kinase enzymes have revealed that a number are able to utilize GTP as the antibiotic phospho donor, either preferentially or exclusively compared to ATP, the canonical phosphate donor in most biochemical reactions. To further explore this phenomenon, we examined three enzymes, APH(3′)-IIIa, APH(2″)-Ib, and MPH(2′)-I, using a competitive assay that mimics in vivonucleotide triphosphate (NTP) concentrations and usage by each enzyme. Downstream analysis of reaction products by high-performance liquid chromatography enabled the determination of partitioning of phosphate flux from NTP donors to antibiotics. Using this ratio along with support from kinetic analysis and inhibitor studies, we find that under physiologic concentrations of NTPs, APH(3′)-IIIa exclusively uses ATP, MPH(2′)-I exclusively uses GTP, and APH(2″)-Ib is able to use both species with a preference for GTP. These differences reveal likely different pathways in antibiotic resistance enzyme evolution and can be exploited in selective inhibitor design to counteract resistance.