Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Refined crystal structures are reported for complexes of Escherichia coli and chicken dihydrofolate reductase containing the antibiotic trimethoprim (TMP). Structural comparison of these two complexes reveals major geometrical differences in TMP binding that may be important in understanding the stereo-chemical basis of this inhibitor's selectivity for bacterial dihydrofolate reductases. For TMP bound to chicken dihydrofolate reductase we observe an altered binding geometry in which the 2,4-diaminopyrimidine occupies a position in closer proximity (by approximately 1 A) to helix alpha B compared to the pyrimidine position for TMP or methotrexate bound to E. coli dihydrofolate reductase. One important consequence of this deeper insertion of the pyrimidine into the active site of chicken dihydrofolate reductase is the loss of a potential hydrogen bond that would otherwise form between the carbonyl oxygen of Val-115 and the inhibitor's 4-amino group. In addition, for TMP bound to E. coli dihydrofolate reductase, the inhibitor's benzyl side chain is positioned low in the active-site pocket pointing down toward the nicotinamide-binding site, whereas, in chicken dihydrofolate reductase, the benzyl group is accommodated in a side channel running upward and away from the cofactor. As a result, the torsion angles about the C5-C7 and C7-C1' bonds for TMP bound to the bacterial reductase (177 degrees, 76 degrees) differ significantly from the corresponding angles for TMP bound to chicken dihydrofolate reductase (-85 degrees, 102 degrees). Finally, when TMP binds to the chicken holoenzyme, the Tyr-31 side chain undergoes a large conformational change (average movement is 5.4 A for all atoms beyond C beta), rotating down into a new position where it hydrogen bonds via an intervening water molecule to the backbone carbonyl oxygen of Trp-24.


Journal article


J Biol Chem

Publication Date





381 - 391


Animals, Chickens, Escherichia coli, Liver, Models, Molecular, Protein Binding, Protein Conformation, Species Specificity, Tetrahydrofolate Dehydrogenase, Trimethoprim, X-Ray Diffraction