The structure of Pneumocystis carinii dihydrofolate reductase to 1.9 A resolution.
Champness JN., Achari A., Ballantine SP., Bryant PK., Delves CJ., Stammers DK.
BACKGROUND: The fungal pathogen Pneumocystis carinii causes a pneumonia which is an opportunistic infection of AIDS patients. Current therapy includes the dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) inhibitor trimethoprim which is selective but only a relatively weak inhibitor of the enzyme for P. carinii. Determination of the three-dimensional structure of the enzyme should form the basis for design of more potent and selective therapeutic agents for treatment of the disease. RESULTS: The structure of P. carinii DHFR in complex with reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate and trimethoprim has accordingly been solved by X-ray crystallography. The structure of the ternary complex has been refined at 1.86 A resolution (R = 0.181). A similar ternary complex with piritrexim (which is a tighter binding, but less selective inhibitor) has also been solved, as has the binary complex holoenzyme, both at 2.5 A resolution. CONCLUSIONS: These structures show how two drugs interact with a fungal DHFR. A comparison of the three-dimensional structure of this relatively large DHFR with bacterial or mammalian enzyme-inhibitor complexes determined previously highlights some additional secondary structure elements in this particular enzyme species. These comparisons provide further insight into the principles governing DHFR-inhibitor interaction, in which the volume of the active site appears to determine the strength of inhibitor binding.