Dihydrofolate reductase: sequential resonance assignments using 2D and 3D NMR and secondary structure determination in solution

Biochemistry. 1991 Jun 25;30(25):6330-41. doi: 10.1021/bi00239a035.


Three-dimensional (3D) heteronuclear NMR techniques have been used to make sequential 1H and 15N resonance assignments for most of the residues of Lactobacillus casei dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR), a monomeric protein of molecular mass 18,300 Da. A uniformly 15N-labeled sample of the protein was prepared and its complex with methotrexate (MTX) studied by 3D 15N/1H nuclear Overhauser-heteronuclear multiple quantum coherence (NOESY-HMQC), Hartmann-Hahn-heteronuclear multiple quantum coherence (HOHAHA-HMQC), and HMQC-NOESY-HMQC experiments. These experiments overcame most of the spectral overlap problems caused by chemical shift degeneracies in 2D spectra and allowed the 1H-1H through-space and through-bond connectivities to be identified unambiguously, leading to the resonance assignments. The novel HMQC-NOESY-HMQC experiment allows NOE cross peaks to be detected between NH protons even when their 1H chemical shifts are degenerate as long as the amide 15N chemical shifts are nondegenerate. The 3D experiments, in combination with conventional 2D NOESY, COSY, and HOHAHA experiments on unlabelled and selectively deuterated DHFR, provide backbone assignments for 146 of the 162 residues and side-chain assignments for 104 residues of the protein. Data from the NOE-based experiments and identification of the slowly exchanging amide protons provide detailed information about the secondary structure of the binary complex of the protein with methotrexate. Sequential NHi-NHi+1 NOEs define four regions with helical structure. Two of these regions, residues 44-49 and 79-89, correspond to within one amino acid to helices C and E in the crystal structure of the DHFR.methotrexate.NADPH complex [Bolin et al. (1982) J. Biol. Chem. 257, 13650-13662], while the NMR-determined helix formed by residues 26-35 is about one turn shorter at the N-terminus than helix B in the crystal structure, which spans residues 23-34. Similarly, the NMR-determined helical region comprising residues 102-110 is somewhat offset from the crystal structure's helix F, which encompasses residues 97-107. Regions of beta-sheet structure were characterized in the binary complex by strong alpha CHi-NHi+1 NOEs and by slowly exchanging amide protons. In addition, several long-range NOEs were identified linking together these stretches to form a beta-sheet. These elements align perfectly with corresponding elements in the crystal structure of the DHFR.methotrexate.NADPH complex, which contains an eight-stranded beta-sheet, indicating that the main body of the beta-sheet is preserved in the binary complex in solution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Hydrogen Bonding
  • Lactobacillus casei / enzymology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Methotrexate / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • NADP / metabolism
  • Nitrogen Isotopes
  • Protein Conformation
  • Solutions
  • Tetrahydrofolate Dehydrogenase / chemistry*
  • Tetrahydrofolate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • X-Ray Diffraction


  • Nitrogen Isotopes
  • Solutions
  • NADP
  • Tetrahydrofolate Dehydrogenase
  • Methotrexate