Structural Comparison of Enterococcus faecalis and Human Thymidylate Synthase Complexes with the Substrate dUMP and Its Analogue FdUMP Provides Hints about Enzyme Conformational Variabilities

Molecules. 2019 Mar 31;24(7):1257. doi: 10.3390/molecules24071257.


Thymidylate synthase (TS) is an enzyme of paramount importance as it provides the only de novo source of deoxy-thymidine monophosphate (dTMP). dTMP, essential for DNA synthesis, is produced by the TS-catalyzed reductive methylation of 2'-deoxyuridine-5'-monophosphate (dUMP) using N⁵,N10-methylenetetrahydrofolate (mTHF) as a cofactor. TS is ubiquitous and a validated drug target. TS enzymes from different organisms differ in sequence and structure, but are all obligate homodimers. The structural and mechanistic differences between the human and bacterial enzymes are exploitable to obtain selective inhibitors of bacterial TSs that can enrich the currently available therapeutic tools against bacterial infections. Enterococcus faecalis is a pathogen fully dependent on TS for dTMP synthesis. In this study, we present four new crystal structures of Enterococcus faecalis and human TSs in complex with either the substrate dUMP or the inhibitor FdUMP. The results provide new clues about the half-site reactivity of Enterococcus faecalis TS and the mechanisms underlying the conformational changes occurring in the two enzymes. We also identify relevant differences in cofactor and inhibitor binding between Enterococcus faecalis and human TS that can guide the design of selective inhibitors against bacterial TSs.

Keywords: Enterococcus faecalis; half-site reactivity; selectivity; thymidylate synthase; x-ray structure.

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites
  • Catalytic Domain
  • Enterococcus faecalis / enzymology*
  • Fluorodeoxyuridylate / chemistry*
  • Fluorodeoxyuridylate / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Conformation*
  • Protein Multimerization
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Thymidine Monophosphate / chemistry*
  • Thymidine Monophosphate / metabolism
  • Thymidylate Synthase / chemistry*
  • Thymidylate Synthase / metabolism


  • Fluorodeoxyuridylate
  • Thymidine Monophosphate
  • Thymidylate Synthase