Sequence-specific 1H assignments have been made for over 25% of the amino acid side chains of Escherichia coli dihydrofolate reductase complexed with folate by using a variety of two-dimensional techniques. Proton resonances were assigned by using a combination of site-directed mutagenesis and a knowledge of the X-ray crystal structure. Unique sets of NOE connectivities present in hydrophobic pockets were matched with the X-ray structure and used to assign many of the residues. Other residues, particularly those near or in the active site, were assigned by site-directed mutagenesis. The ability to assign unambiguously the proton resonances of these catalytically important residues allowed for extensive networks of NOE connectivities to follow from these assignments. As a consequence of these assignments, the orientation of the pterin ring of folate could be determined, and its conformation is similar to that of the productive dihydrofolate complex. Under these experimental conditions, only one bound form of the pterin ring could be detected.
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