Differential signatures of bacterial and mammalian IMP dehydrogenase enzymes

Curr Med Chem. 1999 Jul;6(7):537-43.


IMP dehydrogenase (IMPDH) is an essential enzyme of de novo guanine nucleotide synthesis. IMPDH inhibitors have clinical utility as antiviral, anticancer or immunosuppressive agents. The essential nature of this enzyme suggests its therapeutic applications may be extended to the development of antimicrobial agents. Bacterial IMPDH enzymes show biochemical and kinetic characteristics that are different than the mammalian IMPDH enzymes, suggesting IMPDH may be an attractive target for the development of antimicrobial agents. We suggest that the biochemical and kinetic differences between bacterial and mammalian enzymes are a consequence of the variance of specific, identifiable amino acid residues. Identification of these residues or combination of residues that impart this mammalian or bacterial enzyme signature is a prerequisite for the rational identification of agents that specifically target the bacterial enzyme. We used sequence alignments of IMPDH proteins to identify sequence signatures associated with bacterial or eukaryotic IMPDH enzymes. These selections were further refined to discern those likely to have a role in catalysis using information derived from the bacterial and mammalian IMPDH crystal structures and site-specific mutagenesis. Candidate bacterial sequence signatures identified by this process include regions involved in subunit interactions, the active site flap and the NAD binding region. Analysis of sequence alignments in these regions indicates a pattern of catalytic residues conserved in all enzymes and a secondary pattern of amino acid conservation associated with the major phylogenetic groups. Elucidation of the basis for this mammalian/bacterial IMPDH signature will provide insight into the catalytic mechanism of this enzyme and the foundation for the development of highly specific inhibitors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / enzymology
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Cricetinae
  • Databases, Factual
  • Escherichia coli / enzymology
  • Humans
  • IMP Dehydrogenase / chemistry*
  • Kinetics
  • Mice
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / enzymology
  • Tritrichomonas foetus / enzymology


  • IMP Dehydrogenase