Dihydrofolate reductase from Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MtDHFR) catalyzes the NAD(P)H-dependent reduction of dihydrofolate, yielding NAD(P) + and tetrahydrofolate, the primary one-carbon unit carrier in biology. Tetrahydrofolate needs to be recycled so that reactions involved in dTMP synthesis and purine metabolism can be maintained. Previously, steady-state studies revealed that the chemical step significantly contributes to the steady-state turnover number, but that a step after the chemical step was likely limiting the reaction rate. Here, we report the first pre-steady-state investigation of the kinetic sequence of the MtDHFR aiming to identify kinetic intermediates, and the identity of the rate-limiting steps. This kinetic analysis suggests a kinetic sequence comprising two parallel pathways with a rate-determining product release. Although product release is likely occurring in a random fashion, there is a slight preference for the release of THF first, a kinetic sequence never observed for a wild-type dihydrofolate reductase of any organism studied to date. Temperature studies were conducted to determine the magnitude of the energetic barrier posed by the chemical step, and the pH dependence of the chemical step was studied, demonstrating an acidic shift from the pK a observed at the steady state. The rate constants obtained here were combined with the activation energy for the chemical step to compare energy profiles for each kinetic sequence. The two parallel pathways are discussed, as well as their implications for the catalytic cycle of this enzyme.
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