Serine hydroxymethyltransferase as a potential target of antibacterial agents acting synergistically with one-carbon metabolism-related inhibitors

Commun Biol. 2022 Jun 23;5(1):619. doi: 10.1038/s42003-022-03555-x.


Serine hydroxymethyltransferase (SHMT) produces 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate (CH2-THF) from tetrahydrofolate with serine to glycine conversion. SHMT is a potential drug target in parasites, viruses and cancer. (+)-SHIN-1 was developed as a human SHMT inhibitor for cancer therapy. However, the potential of SHMT as an antibacterial target is unknown. Here, we show that (+)-SHIN-1 bacteriostatically inhibits the growth of Enterococcus faecium at a 50% effective concentration of 10-11 M and synergistically enhances the antibacterial activities of several nucleoside analogues. Our results, including crystal structure analysis, indicate that (+)-SHIN-1 binds tightly to E. faecium SHMT (efmSHMT). Two variable loops in SHMT are crucial for inhibitor binding, and serine binding to efmSHMT enhances the affinity of (+)-SHIN-1 by stabilising the loop structure of efmSHMT. The findings highlight the potency of SHMT as an antibacterial target and the possibility of developing SHMT inhibitors for treating bacterial, viral and parasitic infections and cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Carbon
  • Glycine Hydroxymethyltransferase* / chemistry
  • Glycine Hydroxymethyltransferase* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms*
  • Serine / metabolism


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Serine
  • Carbon
  • Glycine Hydroxymethyltransferase