Dr. Liping Yu, Adjunct Professor of Biochemistry, and collaborators co-authored a Science article entitled “An unprecedented mechanism of nucleotide methylation in organisms containing thyX.” Their findings indicate a mechanism that is very different from thymidylate biosynthesis in humans, underscoring the promise of FDTS as an antibiotic target.
The genomes of all cell-based life consist of DNA. Blocking DNA synthesis is thus lethal, and if targeted selectively, its inhibition can provide cancer and antibiotic treatments. For example, the drug methotrexate interferes with the synthesis of thymidine, the base T in DNA. Mishanina et al. found that the enzyme that carries out the last step of thymidine synthesis in several human pathogens, which cause tuberculosis, anthrax, and typhus, uses a previously undescribed mechanism. Knowing the mechanism may allow the development of specific inhibitors for this enzyme.