Affinity labeling of dihydrofolate reductase with an antifolate glyoxal

R. A. Johanson, J. Henkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Dihydrofolate reductases from different species contain several highly conserved arginines, some of which have been shown by x-ray crystallography to have their guanido groups near the p-aminobenzoyl glutamate moiety of enzyme-bound methotrexate. The orientation of one of these (Agr-52) appears to be completely reversed in comparing the crystal structures of Escherichia coli with Lactobacillus casei enzyme (Bolin, J.T., Filman, D.J., Matthews, D.A., Hamlin, R.C., and Kraut, J. (1982). J. Biol. Chem. 257, 13650-13662). We synthesized a novel antifolate containing a glyoxal group designed to react specifically with active-site guanido groups which are able to approach the p-aminobenzoyl carbonyl of methotrexate. The binding of this compound to the enzyme was competitive with dihydrofolate (DHF) in ordinary buffers. In borate buffer at pH 8.0 it inactivated dihydrofolate reductases from both E. coli and L. casei at similar maximum rates, while the chicken liver enzyme was more slowly inactivated. The inactivation was stoichiometric, paralleled the loss of the glyoxal chromophore, and showed saturation kinetics. Inhibitor binding and thus inactivation was enhanced by NADPH, while DHF protected the enzyme. This allowed calculation of the K(d) for DHF which was found to be identical with its K(m). The stoichiometrically inactivated enzyme displayed the 340-nm chromophore characteristic of 4-aminopteridines bound to dihydrofolate reductase confirming active-site labeling with normal orientation of the ligand. The ligand remained covalently bound to inactivated enzyme upon denaturation at low pH but dissociated at neutral pH. Computer graphic modeling of the chrystal structures predicted reaction of Arg-31 but not Arg-52 in L. casei dihydrofolate reductase and of only Arg-52 in the E. coli enzyme. Purification of the CNBr fragments from the inactivated enzymes gave a single labeled peptide for each species. The particular peptide tagged in each case was unaffected by the presence of NADPH and was in excellent agreement with the crystallographic predictions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1465-1474
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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