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J Biol Chem. 1994 Apr 1;269(13):9547-55.

Methotrexate-resistant variants of human dihydrofolate reductase. Effects of Phe31 substitutions.

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Department of Molecular Pharmacology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee 38101.


Substitution of glycine or alanine for phenylalanine 31 in human dihydrofolate reductase produces variants that are inhibited less by methotrexate (MTX) than the previously reported serine variant. The 100 times decrease in MTX affinity for the glycine variant is due to slower binding, and to inability of the initial complex to isomerize to a nondissociating conformer. A polar group at position 31 is unnecessary for resistance, but residues larger than serine confer no resistance. The glycine variant best fulfills criteria for gene therapy: low Km for H2folate, high kcat, and good stability. Although kcat is unaltered by these mutations, the rate of hydride transfer is greatly decreased. Presteady-state measurements have enabled a complete catalytic scheme to be constructed for the glycine variant that predicts observed steady-state behavior. The crystal structures of inhibitor complexes of the serine, alanine, and glycine mutants and of the wild-type enzyme show that the mutations cause little perturbation of the protein backbone, of side chains of residues at the active site, or of the bound inhibitor. A molecule of bound water occupies the space vacated by the phenyl group.

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