Molecular analysis of murine leukemia cell lines resistant to 5,10-dideazatetrahydrofolate identifies several amino acids critical to the function of folylpolyglutamate synthetase

Rongbao Zhao, Steven Titus, Feng Gao, Richard G. Moran, I. David Goldman

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Four L1210 murine leukemia cell lines resistant to 5,10-dideazatetrahydrofolate (DDATHF) and other folate analogs, but sensitive to continuous exposure to methotrexate, were developed by chemical mutagenesis followed by DDATHF selective pressure. Endogenous folate pools were modestly reduced but polyglutamate derivatives of DDATHF and ALIMTA (LY231514, MTA) were markedly decreased in these mutant cell lines. Membrane transport was not a factor in drug resistance; rather, folypolyglutamate synthetase (FPGS) activity was decreased by >98%. In each cell line, FPGS mRNA expression was unchanged but both alleles of the FPGS gene bore a point mutation in highly conserved domains of the coding region. Four mutations were in the predicted ATP-, folate-, and/or glutamate-binding sites of FPGS, and two others were clustered in a peptide predicted to be β sheet 5, based on the crystal structure of the Lactobacillus casei enzyme. Transfection of cDNAs for three mutant enzymes into FPGS-null Chinese hamster ovary cells restored a reduced level of clonal growth, whereas a T339I mutant supported growth at a level comparable to that of the wild-type enzyme. The two mutations predicted to be in β sheet 5, and one in the loop between NH2- and COOH-terminal domains did not support cell growth. When sets of mutated cDNAs were co-transfected into FPGS-null cells to mimic the genotype of drug-selected resistant cells, clonal growth was restored. These results demonstrate for the first time that single amino acid substitutions in several critical regions of FPGS can cause marked resistance to tetrahydrofolate antimetabolites, while still allowing cell survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26599-26606
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number34
Publication statusPublished - Aug 25 2000


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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