Evolution alters the enzymatic reaction coordinate of dihydrofolate reductase

Jean E. Masterson, Steven D. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


How evolution has affected enzyme function is a topic of great interest in the field of biophysical chemistry. Evolutionary changes from Escherichia coli dihydrofolate reductase (ecDHFR) to human dihydrofolate reductase (hsDHFR) have resulted in increased catalytic efficiency and an altered dynamic landscape in the human enzyme. Here, we show that a subpicosecond protein motion is dynamically coupled to hydride transfer catalyzed by hsDHFR but not ecDHFR. This motion propagates through residues that correspond to mutational events along the evolutionary path from ecDHFR to hsDHFR. We observe an increase in the variability of the transition states, reactive conformations, and times of barrier crossing in the human system. In the hsDHFR active site, we detect structural changes that have enabled the coupling of fast protein dynamics to the reaction coordinate. These results indicate a shift in the DHFR family to a form of catalysis that incorporates rapid protein dynamics and a concomitant shift to a more flexible path through reactive phase space.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)989-996
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 22 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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