Circular-dichroism spectra (200–450 nm) were recorded for Lactobacillus casei MTX/R dihydrofolate reductase and its complexes with substrates, inhibitors and coenzymes. These spectra are compared with those reported by others for dihydrofolate reductase from other sources. The binding of NADP+ or NADPH is associated with the perturbation of one or more aromatic amino acid residues, and there is marked enhancement of the negative c.d. band at 340 nm arising from the dihydronicotinamide chromophore of NADPH. The substrates folate and dihydrofolate give rise to substantial extrinsic c.d. bands on binding, which show a number of specific differences between enzymes from different sources. The binary complexes between the enzyme and the inhibitors methotrexate or trimethoprim also show strong c.d. bands, and these are qualitatively very similar for all dihydrofolate reductases studied so far. The ternary complexes between enzyme, NADPH and trimethoprim or methotrexate are very different from the sum of the spectra of the binary complexes. Trimethoprim leads to the disappearance of the 340 nm c.d. band of bound NADPH, whereas in the methotrexate–NADPH–enzyme ternary complex a! “couplet” c.d. spectrum is observed at long wavelengths. Analysis of this latter feature suggests that it arises from a direct interaction between the dihydronicotinamide and pteridine rings in the ternary complex.

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