Prospective Inhibitors of Serine Hydroxymethyltransferase

  • Saul J.B. Tendler

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The biochemical role of serine and serine hydroxymethy!transferase
(SHMT) are discussed, and the significance of this enzyme in tumour
cells is reviewed. The activities of SHMT were examined in various
tumour cell lines and in a variety of murine organs. The enzyme was
partially purified from murine L1210 leukaemia cells.

DL-α-Vinyl-, DL-α-allyl- and DL-α-propargy] serine were
synthesised as potential irreversible enzyme activated inhibitors of
SHMT. The preparative routes involved alkylations of appropriate
stabilised anions.

The testing of the o-substituted compounds against total K562
cell SHMT showed DL-α-vinylserine to be a competitive inhibitor, with
a Ki of 15.20 mM. DL-α-Allyl- and DL-α-propargylserine caused no
inhibition of the enzyme from this source.

No dehydroxymethylation of the α-substituted compounds could be
detected using the partially purified L1210 SHMT enzyme. The
compounds were also not dehydroxymethylated by the homogeneous rabbit
liver enzyme, nor was there any evidence for quinonoid formation, or
any change in the absorbance of the enzyme.

The crystal structure of DL-α-vinylserine was determined by
direct methods. Molecular modelling studies showed that for a
modelled α-vinylserine-PLP conjugate there is no reason why the
correct orientation for α-β bond cleavage could not be achieved.

Circular dichroism spectroscopy indicated that the lack of
activity of these compounds was due to them not binding to the active
site PLP in the enzyme from homogeneous rabbit liver.

The compounds were shown not to have antibacterial properties,
nor did they cause growth inhibition in the K562 or GM0621 human
leukaemia cell lines. In conclusion, the α-substituted serine
analogues were not effective inhibitors of SHMT.
Date of Award1986
Original languageEnglish


  • inhibitors
  • serine hydroxymethyltransferase

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