FCCC LOGO Faculty Publications
Shan X , Wang L , Hoffmaster R , Kruger WD
Functional characterization of human methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase in Saccharomyces cerevisiae
J Biol Chem. 1999 Nov 12;274(46) :32613-8
Back to previous list
Human methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR, EC catalyzes the reduction of 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate to 5-methyltetrahydrofolate. 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate is a major methyl donor in the remethylation of homocysteine to methionine. Impaired MTHFR can cause high levels of homocysteine in plasma, which is an independent risk factor for vascular disease and neural tube defects. We have functionally characterized wild-type and several mutant alleles of human MTHFR in yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We have shown that yeast MET11 is a functional homologue of human MTHFR. Expression of the human MTHFR cDNA in a yeast strain deleted for MET11 can restore the strain's MTHFR activity in vitro and complement its methionine auxotrophic phenotype in vivo. To understand the domain structure of human MTHFR, we have truncated the C terminus (50%) of the protein and demonstrated that expressing an N-terminal human MTHFR in met11(-) yeast cells rescues the growth phenotype, indicating that this region contains the catalytic domain of the enzyme. However, the truncation leads to the reduced protein levels, suggesting that the C terminus may be important for protein stabilization. We have also functionally characterized four missense mutations identified from patients with severe MTHFR deficiency and two common missense polymorphisms found at high frequency in the general population. Three of the four missense mutations are unable to complement the auxotrophic phenotype of met11(-) yeast cells and show less than 7% enzyme activity of the wild type in vitro. Both of the two common polymorphisms are able to complement the growth phenotype, although one exhibited thermolabile enzyme activity in vitro. These results shall be useful for the functional characterization of MTHFR mutations and analysis structure/function relationship of the enzyme.
0021-9258 Journal Article