Synthesis and biological evaluation of a fluorescent analogue of folic acid

T P McAlinden, J B Hynes, S A Patil, G R Westerhof, G Jansen, J H Schornagel, S S Kerwar, J H Freisheim

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A fluorescein derivative of the lysine analogue of folic acid, N alpha-pteroyl-N epilson-(4'-fluoresceinthiocarbamoyl)-L-lysine (PLF), was synthesized as a probe for dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) and a membrane folate binding protein (m-FBP). Excitation of PLF at 282 nm and at 497 nm gave a fluorescence emission maximum at 518 nm. Binding of PLF to human DHFR or human placental m-FBP results in approximately a 20-fold enhancement in the magnitude of the fluorescence emission, suggesting that the ligand interacts with a hydrophobic region on these proteins. Additional evidence suggests that an energy transfer may occur between the pteridine and the fluorescein moieties. PLF binds to the active site of human DHFR since methotrexate (MTX) competes stoichiometrically and the denatured enzyme in the presence of PLF did not exhibit fluorescent enhancement. The dissociation constant for the fluorescein derivative with respect to human DHFR is 115 nM as compared to 111 nM for folic acid. The Ki value for the competitive inhibition of human DHFR by the fluorescent analogue of folic acid is 2.0 microM compared to 0.48 microM for folic acid. PLF was reduced to N alpha-(7,8-dihydropteroyl)-N epilson-(4'-fluoresceinthiocarbamoyl)-L-lysine (H2PLF) and assayed by the enzymatic conversion to the tetrahydro derivative. The Km value for human DHFR for the dihydrofolate analogue is 2.0 microM. The KD value for H2PLF to human DHFR is 47 nM as compared to 44 nM for dihydrofolate. The KD values for both H2PLF and PLF indicate that the fluorescein moiety does not significantly affect folate binding in enzyme binary complexes.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5674-81
Number of pages8
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 1991


  • Binding, Competitive
  • Biological Transport
  • Carrier Proteins/metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Fluoresceins/chemical synthesis
  • Fluorescence
  • Fluorescent Dyes/metabolism
  • Folate Receptors, GPI-Anchored
  • Folic Acid/analogs & derivatives
  • Humans
  • Lysine/analogs & derivatives
  • Methotrexate/metabolism
  • Placenta
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Tetrahydrofolate Dehydrogenase/metabolism
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured

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