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Electrostatic guidance of catalysis by a conserved glutamic acid in Escherichia coli dTMP synthase and bacteriophage T4 dCMP hydroxymethylase

GSBS Program

Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology



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Medical Subject Headings

Amino Acid Sequence; Bacteriophage T4; Binding Sites; Catalysis; Cloning, Molecular; Conserved Sequence; Electrochemistry; Escherichia coli; Folic Acid Antagonists; *Glutamic Acid; *Hydroxymethyl and Formyl Transferases; Kinetics; Models, Theoretical; Mutagenesis, Site-Directed; *Protein Conformation; Recombinant Proteins; Thymidylate Synthase; Transferases


Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


Thymidylate synthase (TS) and dCMP hydroxymethylase (CH) are homologous enzymes which catalyze the alkylation of C5 of pyrimidine nucleotides. One of the first catalytic steps is isomerization of the alkyl donor, methylenetetrahydrofolate, from its N5,N10 bridged form to the N5 iminium ion upon enzyme binding. Glu58 in TS has been postulated [Matthews et al. (1990) J. Mol. Biol. 214, 937-948] to be involved in this isomerization and the deprotonation of C5 of the nucleotide. Substitution by Asp or Gln of Glu58 in Escherichia coli TS, or of the corresponding Glu60 in CH from phage T4, decreases the activity of either enzyme. Alkylation is slowed much more than deprotonation, indicating uncoupling of steps which are tightly coupled for the wild-type enzymes. The data support minor roles for Glu58/60 in nucleotide binding and in isomerization of methylenetetrahydrofolate, but no major roles in nucleotide deprotonation, product dissociation, or hydration catalyzed by CH. The primary role of Glu58/60 is to accelerate bond cleavage between N5 of tetrahydrofolate and the methylene being transferred. The influence of Glu58/60 on the rate of bond cleavage is proposed to arise from electrostatic destabilization due to the proximity of the glutamyl carboxylate, of the anionic species formed when C5 of the nucleotide is deprotonated. The proposal explains the uncoupling of deprotonation and alkylation with the Glu58/60 variants and the reduced kinetic isotope effect on hydride transfer for TS(Glu58Gln). The inability of 5-deazatetrahydrofolate to stimulate enzyme-catalyzed tritium exchange from [5-(3H)]nucleotides into solvent suggests that N5 of tetrahydrofolate is the base which deprotonates the nucleotide.

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Citation: Biochemistry. 1995 Jul 4;34(26):8422-32.

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