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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2009

Nonpolar Nucleoside Mimics as Active Substrates for Human Thymidine Kinases

Jarchow-Choy, Sarah K.; Sjuvarsson, Elena; Sintim, Herman O.; Eriksson, Staffan; Kool, Eric T.


We describe the use of nonpolar nucleoside analogues of systematically varied size and shape to probe the mechanisms by which the two human thymidine kinases (TK1 and TK2) recognize and phosphorylate their substrate, thymidine. Comparison of polar thymidine with a nonpolar isostere, 2,4-difluorotoluene deoxyriboside, as substrates for the two enzymes establishes that TK1 requires electrostatic complementarity to recognize the thymine base with high efficiency. Conversely, TK2 does not and phosphorylates the hydrophobic shape mimic with efficiency nearly the same as the natural substrate. To test the response to nucleobase size, thymidine-like analogues were systematically varied by replacing the 2,4 substituents on toluene with hydrogen and the halogen series (H, F, Cl, Br, I). Both enzymes showed a distinct preference for substrates having the natural size. To examine the shape preference, we prepared four mono- and difluorotoluene deoxyribosides with varying positions of substitutions. While TK1 did not accept these nonpolar analogues as substrates, TK2 did show varying levels of phosphorylation of the shape-varied set. This latter enzyme preferred toluene nucleoside analogues having steric projections at the 2 and 4 positions, as is found in thymine, and strongly disfavored substitution at the 3-position. Steady-state kinetics measurements showed that the 4-fluoro compound (7) had an apparent V(max)/K(m) value within 14-fold of the natural substrate, and the 2,4-difluoro compound (1), which is the closest isostere of thymidine, had a value within 2.5-fold. The results establish that nucleoside recognition mechanisms for the two classes of enzymes are very different. On the basis of these data, nonpolar nucleosides are likely to be active in the nucleotide salvage pathway in human cells, suggesting new designs for future bioactive molecules.

Published in

Journal of the American Chemical Society
2009, volume: 131, number: 15, pages: 5488-5494

Authors' information

Jarchow-Choy, Sarah K.
Stanford University
Sjuvarsson, Elena
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry (AFB)
Sintim, Herman O.
Stanford University
Kool, Eric T.
Stanford University

UKÄ Subject classification

Veterinary Science
Animal and Dairy Science

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