Temperature dependence of the kinetic isotope effects in thymidylate synthase. a theoretical study

Natalia Kanaan, Silvia Ferrer, Sergio Martí, Mireia Garcia-Viloca, Amnon Kohen, Vicent Moliner

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59 Citations (Scopus)


In recent years, the temperature dependence of primary kinetic isotope effects (KIE) has been used as indicator for the physical nature of enzyme-catalyzed H-transfer reactions. An interactive study where experimental data and calculations examine the same chemical transformation is a critical means to interpret more properly temperature dependence of KIEs. Here, the rate-limiting step of the thymidylate synthase-catalyzed reaction has been studied by means of hybrid quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics (QM/MM) simulations in the theoretical framework of the ensemble-averaged variational transition-state theory with multidimensional tunneling (EA-VTST/MT) combined with Grote-Hynes theory. The KIEs were calculated across the same temperature range examined experimentally, revealing a temperature independent behavior, in agreement with experimental findings. The calculations show that the H-transfer proceeds with ∼91% by tunneling in the case of protium and ∼80% when the transferred protium is replaced by tritium. Dynamic recrossing coefficients are almost invariant with temperature and in all cases far from unity, showing significant coupling between protein motions and the reaction coordinate. In particular, the relative movement of a conserved arginine (Arg166 in Escherichia coli) promotes the departure of a conserved cysteine (Cys146 in E. coli) from the dUMP by polarizing the thioether bond thus facilitating this bond breaking that takes place concomitantly with the hydride transfer. These promoting vibrations of the enzyme, which represent some of the dimensions of the real reaction coordinate, would limit the search through configurational space to efficiently find those decreasing both barrier height and width, thereby enhancing the probability of H-transfer by either tunneling (through barrier) or classical (over-the-barrier) mechanisms. In other words, the thermal fluctuations that are coupled to the reaction coordinate, together with transition-state geometries and tunneling, are the same in different bath temperatures (within the limited experimental range examined). All these terms contribute to the observed temperature independent KIEs in thymidylate synthase. © 2011 American Chemical Society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6692-6702
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2011


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