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Biochemistry. 1992 Dec 29;31(51):12876-84.

Cofactor triggers the conformational change in thymidylate synthase: implications for an ordered binding mechanism.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco 94143.


We have solved crystal structures of two complexes with Escherichia coli thymidylate synthase (TS) bound either to the cofactor analog N10-propargyl-5,8-dideazafolate (CB3717) or to a tighter binding polygutamyl derivative of CB3717. These structures suggest that cofactor binding alone is sufficient to induce the conformational change in TS; dUMP binding is not required. Because polyglutamyl folates are the primary cofactor form in vivo, and because they can bind more tightly than dUMP to TS, these structures may represent a key intermediate along the TS reaction pathway. These structures further suggest that the dUMP binding site is accessible in the TS-cofactor analog binary complexes. Conformational flexibility of the binary complex may permit dUMP to enter the active site of TS while the cofactor is bound. Alternatively, dUMP may enter the active site from the opposite side that the cofactor appears to enter; that is, through a portal flanked by arginines that also coordinate the phosphate group in the active site. Entry of dUMP through this portal may allow dUMP to bind to a TS-cofactor binary complex in which the complex has completed its conformational transition to the catalytically competent structure.

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