Thymidylate synthase (TS), encoded by the ThyA gene, is essential for the growth and survival of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and therefore is a potential drug target. Thymidylate synthase binds both a substrate, 2'-deoxyuridine-5'monophosphate (dUMP) as well as a cofactor, (6R,S)-5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate (mTHF), providing the ability to inhibit a single target by two separate classes of molecules. 5'-fluoro-2'-deoxyuridine-5'-monophosphate (FdUMP) is a very tight binding mechanism based inhibitor, shown to have a Ki of 2nM for Mtb TS. Pemetrexed and Raltitrexed are both anti-folates, targeting the cofactor binding site of thymidylate synthase.
The x-ray crystal structures of Mycobacterium tuberculosis thymidylate synthase were solved in the binary complexes ThyA-dUMP and ThyA-FdUMP at 2.5 A and 2.4 A resolutions, respectively. The ternary complex, ThyA-dUMP-Pemetrexed was solved to a resolution of 1.7 A. The enzyme is comprised of 8 alpha-helices as well as 23% of the protein formed by beta-sheets, including the dimer interface which is a beta-sandwich. Examination of the dUMP binding site allowed the identification of key conserved residues that play a role in ligand binding and catalysis. Comparison of the dUMP-Pemetrexed ternary complex with that of the human crystal structure shows two fewer interactions in the Mtb enzyme. One is due to the replacement of a Met with a Val which doesn't allow hydrophobic interactions with the ring system of Pemetrexed, and the other is the replacement of an Asn with a Trp, depriving the Mtb protein of a hydrogen bond at the N7 of the pyrrolo ring.
A spectrophotometric assay that monitored DHF formation was used to determine the inhibition of Pemetrexed and Raltitrexed on Mtb TS. Both were verified as noncompetitive inhibitors, and Pemetrexed was found to have an IC50 of 17muM and a Ki of 16.8muM, while Raltitrexed had an IC50 of 3.5muM and a Ki of 3.2muM.
- Sacchettini, James Professor