Folylpoly-gamma-glutamate synthetase (FPGS) is the enzyme responsible for metabolic trapping of reduced folate cofactors in cells for use in nucleotide and amino acid biosynthesis. There are two isoforms of FPGS expressed in mouse tissues, one is expressed in differentiated tissue, principally liver and kidney, and the other in all rapidly proliferating cell types. The present study sought the functional difference that would explain the evolution of two mouse FPGS species. Recombinant cytosolic mouse isozymes were compared with respect to steady state kinetics, chain length of polyglutamate derivatives formed, and end-product inhibition by the major reduced folylpentaglutamate cofactors. Both isoforms were equally effective in catalyzing the addition of a mole of glutamic acid to reduced folate monoglutamate substrates. Each isoform was also capable of forming long chain polyglutamate derivatives of the model folate, 5,10-dideazatetrahydrofolate. In contrast, the FPGS isoform derived from rapidly proliferating tissue was much more sensitive to inhibition by (6R)-5,10-CH(2)-H(4)PteGlu(5) and (6S)-H(4)PteGlu(5) than the isoform expressed in differentiated tissues, as demonstrated by 13- and 6-fold lower inhibition constants (K(i)), respectively. Interestingly, each isozyme was equally sensitive to inhibition by (6R)-10-CHO-H(4)PteGlu(5). We drew the conclusion that the decreased sensitivity of the FPGS expressed in mouse liver and kidney to feedback inhibition by 5,10-CH(2)-H(4)PteGlu(5-6) and H(4)PteGlu(5-6) may have evolved to permit accumulation of a larger folate cofactor pool than that found within rapidly proliferating tissue.