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77  structures 4749  species 1  interaction 5143  sequences 28  architectures

Family: TK (PF00265)

Summary: Thymidine kinase

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Thymidine kinase Edit Wikipedia article

Thymidine kinase
Crystal structure of a tetramer of thymidine kinase from U. urealyticum (where the monomers are color cyan, green, red, and magenta respectively) in complex with thymidine (space-filling model, carbon = white, oxygen = red, nitrogen = blue).[1]
EC number2.7.1.21
CAS number9002-06-6
IntEnzIntEnz view
ExPASyNiceZyme view
MetaCycmetabolic pathway
PDB structuresRCSB PDB PDBe PDBsum
Gene OntologyAmiGO / QuickGO
Thymidine kinase
Pfam clanCL0023
Thymidine kinase 1, soluble
NCBI gene7083
Other data
EC number2.7.1.21
LocusChr. 17 q23.2-25.3
Thymidine kinase 2, mitochondrial
NCBI gene7084
Other data
EC number2.7.1.21
LocusChr. 16 [1]

Thymidine kinase is an enzyme, a phosphotransferase (a kinase): 2'-deoxythymidine kinase, ATP-thymidine 5'-phosphotransferase, EC[2][3] It can be found in most living cells. It is present in two forms in mammalian cells, TK1 and TK2. Certain viruses also have genetic information for expression of viral thymidine kinases. Thymidine kinase catalyzes the reaction:

Thd + ATP → TMP + ADP

where Thd is (deoxy)thymidine, ATP is adenosine triphosphate, TMP is (deoxy)thymidine monophosphate and ADP is adenosine diphosphate. Thymidine kinases have a key function in the synthesis of DNA and therefore in cell division, as they are part of the unique reaction chain to introduce thymidine into the DNA. Thymidine is present in the body fluids as a result of degradation of DNA from food and from dead cells. Thymidine kinase is required for the action of many antiviral drugs. It is used to select hybridoma cell lines in production of monoclonal antibodies. In clinical chemistry it is used as a proliferation marker in the diagnosis, control of treatment and follow-up of malignant disease, mainly of hematological malignancies.


The incorporation of thymidine in DNA was demonstrated around 1950.[4] Somewhat later, it was shown that this incorporation was preceded by phosphorylation,[5] and, around 1960, the enzyme responsible was purified and characterized.[6][7]


Two different classes of thymidine kinases have been identified[8][9] and are included in this super family: one family groups together thymidine kinase from herpesvirus as well as cellular thymidylate kinases, the second family groups TK from various sources that include, vertebrates, bacteria, the bacteriophage T4, poxviruses, African swine fever virus (ASFV) and Fish lymphocystis disease virus (FLDV). The major capsid protein of insect iridescent viruses also belongs to this family. The Prosite pattern recognizes only the cellular type of thymidine kinases.


Mammals have two isoenzymes, that are chemically very different, TK1 and TK2. The former was first found in fetal tissue, the second was found to be more abundant in adult tissue, and initially they were termed fetal and adult thymidine kinase. Soon it was shown that TK1 is present in the cytoplasm only in anticipation of cell division (cell cycle-dependent),[10][11] whereas TK2 is located in mitochondria and is cell cycle-independent.[12][13] The two isoenzymes have different reaction kinetics and are inhibited by different inhibitors.

The viral thymidine kinases differ completely from the mammalian enzymes both structurally and biochemically and are inhibited by inhibitors that do not inhibit the mammalian enzymes.[14][15][16] The genes of the two human isoenzymes were localized in the mid-1970s.[17][18] The gene for TK1 was cloned and sequenced.[19] The corresponding protein has a molecular weight of about 25 kD. Normally, it occurs in tissue as a dimer with a molecular weight of around 50 kD. It can be activated by ATP. After activation, is a tetramer with a molecular weight around 100 kD.[20] However, the form of enzyme present in the circulation does not correspond to the protein as encoded by the gene: the main fraction of the active enzyme in the circulation has a molecular weight of 730 kD and is probably bound in a complex to other proteins. This complex is more stable and has a higher specific activity than any of the lower molecular weight forms.[21][22]

Recombinant TK1 cannot be activated and converted to a tetramer in this way, showing that the enzyme occurring in cells has been modified after synthesis.[20][23][24]

TK1 is synthesized by the cell during the S phase of cell division. After cell division is completed, TK1 is degraded intracellularly and does not pass to body fluids after normal cell division.[25][26][27][28] There is a feed-back regulation of the action of thymidine kinase in the cell: thymidine triphosphate (TTP), the product of the further phosphorylation of thymidine, acts as an inhibitor to thymidine kinase.[23] This serves to maintain a balanced amount of TTP available for nucleic acid synthesis, not oversaturating the system. 5'-Aminothymidine, a non-toxic analogue of thymidine, interferes with this regulatory mechanism and thereby increases the cytotoxicity of thymidine analogues used as antineoplastic drugs.[29][30][31][32][33][34][35] The reaction kinetics of thymidine and thymidine analogues phosphorylation is complicated and only partly known. The overall phosphorylation of thymidine to thymidine triphosphate does not follow Michaelis-Menten kinetics, and the various phosphates of thymidine and uridine interfere with the phosphorylation of each other.[36] The kinetics of TK from different species differ from each other's and also the different forms from a given species (monomer, dimer, tetramer and serum form) have different kinetic characteristics.

Genes for virus specific thymidine kinases have been identified in Herpes simplex virus, Varicella zoster virus and Epstein-Barr virus.[37][38][39][40][41][42][43]

2'-Desoxythymidin.svg + ATP ---> 2'-Desoxythymidinmonophosphat.svg + ADP

Thymidine reacts with ATP to give thymidine monophosphate and ADP.


Thymidine monophosphate, the product of the reaction catalyzed by thymidine kinase, is in turn phosphorylated to thymidine diphosphate by the enzyme thymidylate kinase and further to thymidine triphosphate by the enzyme nucleoside diphosphate kinase. The triphosphate is included in a DNA molecule, a reaction catalyzed by a DNA polymerase and a complementary DNA molecule (or an RNA molecule in the case of reverse transcriptase, an enzyme present in retrovirus).

Thymidine monophosphate is also produced by the cell in a different reaction by methylation of deoxyuridine monophosphate, a product of other metabolic pathways unrelated to thymidine, by the enzyme thymidylate synthase. The second route is sufficient to supply thymidine monophosphate for DNA repair. When a cell prepares to divide, a complete new set-up of DNA is required, and the requirement for building blocks, including thymidine triphosphate, increases. Cells prepare for cell division by making some of the enzymes required during the division. They are not normally present in the cells and are downregulated and degraded afterwards. Such enzymes are called salvage enzymes. Thymidine kinase 1 is such a salvage enzyme, whereas thymidine kinase 2 and thymidylate synthase are not cell cycle-dependent.[44][45][46][47][48][49][50][51][52][53][54]


Thymidine kinase 2 is used by the cells for synthesis of mitochondrial DNA. Mutations in the gene for TK2 lead to a myopathic form of mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. Another reason for TK 2 deficiency may be oxidative stress induced S-glutathionylation and proteolytic degradation of mitochondrial thymidine kinase 2.[55] No syndrome caused by TK1 deficiency is known, probably as a defective TK1 gene would lead to fetal death.

Thymidine kinase during development

The formation of tetramer after modification of thymidine kinase 1 after synthesis enhances the enzyme activity. It has been suggested that this is a mechanism for regulation of the enzyme activity. The formation of tetramers is observed after the Dictyostelium development stage. Its use for fine regulation of DNA synthesis is suggested to have been established in warm blooded animals after they branched out from the vertebrates.[56] Also the development of thymidine kinase like enzymes in the development has been studied.[57]

Species distribution

Thymidine kinase is present in animals,[58][59][60][61][62][63][64] plants,[65][66] some bacteria, archeans[67][68][69] and virus. The thymidine kinases from pox viruses,[8][70] African swine fever virus,[9] Herpes simplex virus,[16][37][38][39][40][71][72][73] Varicella zoster virus and[41][74][75] Epstein- Barr virus[42] have been identified and to a varying degree characterized. The enzyme form in virus is different from that in other organisms.[16] Thymidine kinase is not present in fungi.[68][76][77][78]


Identification of dividing cells

The first indirect use of thymidine kinase in biochemical research was the identification of dividing cells by incorporation of radiolabeled thymidine and subsequent measurement of the radioactivity or autoradiography to identify the dividing cells. For this purpose tritiated thymidine is included in the growth medium.[79] In spite of errors in the technique, it is still used to determine the growth rate of malignant cells and to study the activation of lymphocytes in immunology.

PET scan of active tumors

Fluorothymidine is a thymidine analog. Its uptake is regulated by thymidine kinase 1, and it is therefore taken up preferentially by rapidly proliferating tumor tissue. The fluorine isotope 18 is a positron emitter that is used in positron emission tomography (PET). The fluorine-18 radiolabeled fluorothymidine F-18 is therefore useful for PET imaging of active tumor proliferation, and compares favorably with the more commonly used marker fludeoxyglucose (18F).[80][81][82][83][84][85] A standardized protocol that will help comparison of clinical studies has been suggested.[86]

Selection of hybridomas

Hybridomas are cells obtained by fusing tumor cells (which can divide infinitely) and immunoglobulin-producing lymphocytes (plasma cells). Hybridomas can be expanded to produce large quantities of immunoglobulins with a given unique specificity (monoclonal antibodies). One problem is to single out the hybridomas from the large excess of unfused cells after the cell fusion. One common way to solve this is to use thymidine kinase negative (TK−) tumor cell lines for the fusion. The thymidine kinase negative cells are obtained by growing the tumor cell line in the presence of thymidine analogs, that kill the thymidine kinase positive (TK+) cells. The negative cells can then be expanded and used for the fusion with TK+ plasma cells. After fusion, the cells are grown in a medium with methotrexate[87] or aminopterin[88] that inhibit the enzyme dihydrofolate reductase thus blocking the de novo synthesis of thymidine monophosphate. One such medium that is commonly used is HAT medium, which contains hypoxanthine, aminopterin and thymidine. The unfused cells from the thymidine kinase-deficient cell line die because they have no source of thymidine monophosphate. The lymphocytes eventually die because they are not "immortal." Only the hybridomas that have "immortality" from their cell line ancestor and thymidine kinase from the plasma cell survive. Those that produce the desired antibody are then selected and cultured to produce the monoclonal antibody.[89][90][91][92][93] Hybridoma cells can also be isolated using the same principle as described with respect to another gene the HGPRT, which synthesizes IMP necessary for GMP nucleotide synthesis in the salvage pathway.

Study of chromosome structure

Molecular combing of DNA fibers can be used to monitor the structure of chromosomes in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This provides DNA replication profiles of individual molecules. This requires that the yeast strains express thymidine kinase, which wild type yeasts do not, being fungi (see occurrence). Therefore, a gene for thymidine kinase must be incorporated in the genome.[94]

Clinical chemistry

Thymidine kinase is a salvage enzyme that is only present in anticipation of cell division. The enzyme is not set free from cells undergoing normal division where the cells have a special mechanism to degrade the proteins no longer needed after the cell division.[10] In normal subjects, the amount of thymidine kinase in serum or plasma is therefore very low. Tumor cells release enzyme to the circulation, probably in connection with the disruption of dead or dying tumor cells. The thymidine kinase level in serum therefore serves as a measure of malignant proliferation, indirectly as a measure of the aggressivity of the tumor.

Therapeutic applications

Some drugs are specifically directed against dividing cells. They can be used against tumors and viral diseases (both against retrovirus and against other virus), as the diseased cells replicate much more frequently than normal cells and also against some non-malignant diseases related to excessively rapid cell replication (for instance psoriasis). It has been suggested that the antiviral and anti-cancer activity of thymidine analogues is, at least partly, achieved by down-regulation of mitochondrial thymidine kinase.[95]


There are different classes of drugs directed against thymidine metabolism and thereby involving thymidine kinase that are used to control cancer associated cell division.[96][97][98][99][100][101] Chain terminators are thymidine analogues that are included in the growing DNA chain, but modified so that the chain cannot be further elongated. As analogs of thymidine, this type of drugs are readily phosphorylated to 5'-monophosphates. The monophosphate is further phosphorylated to the corresponding triphosphate and incorporated in the growing DNA chain. The analog has been modified so that it does not have the hydroxyl group in the 3'-position that is required for continued chain growth. In zidovudine (AZT; ATC:J05AF01) the 3'-hydroxyl group has been replaced by an azido group,[36][100] in stavudine (ATC: J05AF04) it has been removed without replacement.[102][103] AZT is used as substrate in one of the methods for determination of thymidine kinase in serum.[104] This implies that AZT interferes with this method and may be a limitation: AZT is a standard component of HAART therapy in HIV infection. One common consequence of AIDS is lymphoma and the most important diagnostic application of thymidine kinase determination is for monitoring of lymphoma.

Other thymidine analogues, for instance Idoxuridine (ATC: J05AB02) act by blocking base pairing during subsequent replication cycles, thereby making the resulting DNA chain defective.[105] This may also be combined with radioactivity to achieve apoptosis of malignant cells.[106]


Some antiviral drugs, such as acyclovir (ATC: J05AB01) and ganciclovir (ATC: J05AB06) as well as other nucleoside analogs make use of the substrate specificity of viral thymidine kinase, as opposed to human thymidine kinases.[15] These drugs act as pro-drugs, which in themselves are not toxic, but are converted to toxic drugs by phosphorylation by viral thymidine kinase. Cells infected with the virus therefore produce highly toxic triphosphates that lead to cell death. Human thymidine kinase, in contrast, with its more narrow specificity, is unable to phosphorylate and activate the prodrug. In this way, only cells infected by the virus are susceptible to the drug. Such drugs are effective only against viruses from the herpes group with their specific thymidine kinase.[107][108] In patients treated with this type of drugs, the development of antiviral drug resistance is frequently observed. Sequencing the thymidine kinase gene in Herpes simplex virus and Varicella zoster virus shows the rapid genetic variability and may facilitate the diagnosis of antiviral drug resistance.[16][75]

After smallpox was declared eradicated by WHO in December 1979, vaccination programs were terminated. A re-emergence of the disease either by accident or as a result of biological warfare would meet an unprotected population and could result in an epidemic that could be difficult to control. Mass vaccination would be unethical, as the only efficient vaccines against smallpox include live vaccinia virus with severe adverse effects on rare occasions. As one protective measure, large amounts of vaccine are kept in stock, but an efficient drug against smallpox has high priority. One possible approach would be to use the specificity of the thymidine kinase of poxvirus for the purpose, in a similar way that it is used for drugs against herpesvirus. One difficulty is that the poxvirus thymidine kinase belongs to the same family of thymidine kinases as the human thymidine kinases and thereby is more similar chemically. The structure of poxvirus thymidine kinases has therefore been determined to find potential antiviral drugs.[70] The search has, however, not yet resulted in a usable antiviral drug against poxviruses.

As a “suicide gene” in gene therapy

The herpesvirus thymidine kinase gene has also been used as a “suicide gene” as a safety system in gene therapy experiments, allowing cells expressing the gene to be killed using ganciclovir. This is desirable in case the recombinant gene causes a mutation leading to uncontrolled cell growth (insertional mutagenesis). The cytotoxic products produced by these modified cells may diffuse to neighboring cells, rendering them similarly susceptible to ganciclovir, a phenomenon known as the "bystander effect." This approach has been used to treat cancer in animal models, and is advantageous in that the tumor may be killed with as few as 10% of malignant cells expressing the gene.[109][110][111][112][113][114][115][116][117][118][119][120][121][122][123] A similar system has been tried using tomato thymidine kinase and AZT.[124][125]

Tumor marker genes

A similar use of the thymidine kinase makes use of the presence in some tumor cells of substances not present in normal cells (tumor markers). Such tumor markers are, for instance, CEA (carcinoembryonic antigen) and AFP (alpha fetoprotein). The genes for these tumor markers may be used as promoter genes for thymidine kinase. Thymidine kinase can then be activated in cells expressing the tumor marker but not in normal cells, such that treatment with ganciclovir kills only the tumor cells.[126][127][128][129][130][131] Such gene therapy-based approaches are still experimental, however, as problems associated with targeting the gene transfer to the tumor cells have not yet been completely solved.

Neutron capture therapy for tumors

Incorporation of a thymidine analogue with boron has been suggested and tried in animal models for boron neutron capture therapy of brain tumors. A very extensive number of thymidine derivatives containing boron have been described.[132][133][134][135][136][137][138][139][140][141][142][143][144][145][146][147][148]


Introduction of a TK gene in a parasite genome makes it possible to incorporate BrdU and thereby makes the parasite sensitive to treatment with this drug has also been suggested and constitutes a sensitive indicator of replication of the parasite genome.[149]


In serum and plasma

Thymidine kinase levels in serum or plasma have been mostly measured using enzyme activity assays. In commercial assays, this is done by incubation of a serum sample with a substrate analog and measurement of the amount of product formed.[71][72][73][104][150][151][152][153][154][155] Direct determination of the thymidine kinase protein by immunoassay has also been used.[156][157][158][159][160] The amounts of thymidine kinase found by this method does not correlate well with the enzyme activities. One reason for this is that a large amount of serum TK1 identified by immunoassay is not enzymatically active.[22][161] This is particularly the case with solid tumors where immunoassays may be more sensitive.[162][163]

In tissue

Thymidine kinase has been determined in tissue samples after extraction of the tissue. No standard method for the extraction or for the assay has been developed and TK determination in extracts from cells and tissues have not been validated in relation to any specific clinical question, see however Romain et al.[164] and Arnér et al.[165] A method has been developed for specific determination of TK2 in cell extracts using the substrate analog 5-Bromovinyl 2'-deoxyuridine.[166] In the studies referred to below the methods used and the way the results are reported are so different that comparisons between different studies are not possible. The TK1 levels in fetal tissues during development are higher than those of the corresponding tissues later.[167][168][169] Certain non-malignant diseases also give rise to dramatic elevation of TK values in cells and tissue: in peripheric lymphocytes during monocytosis[170] and in bone marrow during pernicious anemia.[171][172] As TK1 is present in cells during cell division, it is reasonable to assume that the TK activity in malignant tissue should be higher than in corresponding normal tissue. This is also confirmed in most studies.

Immunohistochemical staining

Antibodies against thymidine kinase are available for immunohistochemical detection.[173] Staining for thymidine kinase was found to be a reliable technique for identification of patients with stage 2 breast carcinoma. The highest number of patients identified was obtained by combination of thymidine kinase and Ki-67 staining.[174][175] The technique has also been validated for lung cancer,[174][176] for colorectal carcinoma,[177] for lung cancer[178] and for renal cell carcinoma.[179]

Fluorescent staining

2'-deoxy-2',2'-difluoro-5-ethynyluridine (dF-EdU) binds to Herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase but, because of sterical hindrance, not to human thymidine kinase. This reagent together with a fluorescent azide cause fluorescence of infected cells but not of uninfected cells. Therefore, this substrate analog makes it possible to specifically stain infected cells.[180]

See also


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  126. ^ Hart IR (1996). "Tissue specific promoters in targeting systemically delivered gene therapy". Seminars in Oncology. 23 (1): 154–8. PMID 8607025.
  127. ^ Wills KN, Huang WM, Harris MP, Machemer T, Maneval DC, Gregory RJ (1995). "Gene therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma: chemosensitivity conferred by adenovirus-mediated transfer of the HSV-1 thymidine kinase gene". Cancer Gene Therapy. 2 (3): 191–7. PMID 8528962.
  128. ^ Ido A, Nakata K, Kato Y, Nakao K, Murata K, Fujita M, Ishii N, Tamaoki T, Shiku H, Nagataki S (1995). "Gene therapy for hepatoma cells using a retrovirus vector carrying herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase gene under the control of human alpha-fetoprotein gene promoter". Cancer Research. 55 (14): 3105–9. PMID 7541712.
  129. ^ Kanai F, Shiratori Y, Yoshida Y, Wakimoto H, Hamada H, Kanegae Y, Saito I, Nakabayashi H, Tamaoki T, Tanaka T, Lan KH, Kato N, Shiina S, Omata M (1996). "Gene therapy for alpha-fetoprotein-producing human hepatoma cells by adenovirus-mediated transfer of the herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase gene". Hepatology. 23 (6): 1359–68. doi:10.1002/hep.510230611. PMID 8675152.
  130. ^ Garver RI, Goldsmith KT, Rodu B, Hu PC, Sorscher EJ, Curiel DT (1994). "Strategy for achieving selective killing of carcinomas". Gene Therapy. 1 (1): 46–50. PMID 7584059.
  131. ^ Hart IR (1996). "Transcriptionally targeted gene therapy". Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology. 213 (3): 19–25. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-80071-9_2. ISBN 978-3-642-80073-3. PMID 8815006.
  132. ^ Byun Y, Thirumamagal BT, Yang W, Eriksson S, Barth RF, Tjarks W (2006). "Preparation and biological evaluation of 10B-enriched 3-[5-{2-(2,3-dihydroxyprop-1-yl)-o-carboran-1-yl}pentan-1-yl]thymidine (N5-2OH), a new boron delivery agent for boron neutron capture therapy of brain tumors". Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. 49 (18): 5513–23. doi:10.1021/jm060413w. PMID 16942024.
  133. ^ Thirumamagal BT, Johnsamuel J, Cosquer GY, Byun Y, Yan J, Narayanasamy S, Tjarks W, Barth RF, Al-Madhoun AS, Eriksson S (2006). "Boronated thymidine analogues for boron neutron capture therapy". Nucleosides, Nucleotides & Nucleic Acids. 25 (8): 861–6. doi:10.1080/15257770600793844. PMID 16901817.
  134. ^ Narayanasamy S, Thirumamagal BT, Johnsamuel J, Byun Y, Al-Madhoun AS, Usova E, Cosquer GY, Yan J, Bandyopadhyaya AK, Tiwari R, Eriksson S, Tjarks W (2006). "Hydrophilically enhanced 3-carboranyl thymidine analogues (3CTAs) for boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT) of cancer". Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry. 14 (20): 6886–99. doi:10.1016/j.bmc.2006.06.039. PMID 16831554.
  135. ^ Byun Y, Narayanasamy S, Johnsamuel J, Bandyopadhyaya AK, Tiwari R, Al-Madhoun AS, Barth RF, Eriksson S, Tjarks W (2006). "3-Carboranyl thymidine analogues (3CTAs) and other boronated nucleosides for boron neutron capture therapy". Anti-Cancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry. 6 (2): 127–44. doi:10.2174/187152006776119171. PMID 16529536.
  136. ^ Byun Y, Yan J, Al-Madhoun AS, Johnsamuel J, Yang W, Barth RF, Eriksson S, Tjarks W (2005). "Synthesis and biological evaluation of neutral and zwitterionic 3-carboranyl thymidine analogues for boron neutron capture therapy". Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. 48 (4): 1188–98. doi:10.1021/jm0491896. PMID 15715485.
  137. ^ Barth RF, Yang W, Al-Madhoun AS, Johnsamuel J, Byun Y, Chandra S, Smith DR, Tjarks W, Eriksson S (2004). "Boron-containing nucleosides as potential delivery agents for neutron capture therapy of brain tumors". Cancer Research. 64 (17): 6287–95. doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-04-0437. PMID 15342417.
  138. ^ Al-Madhoun AS, Johnsamuel J, Barth RF, Tjarks W, Eriksson S (2004). "Evaluation of human thymidine kinase 1 substrates as new candidates for boron neutron capture therapy". Cancer Research. 64 (17): 6280–6. doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-04-0197. PMID 15342416.
  139. ^ Johnsamuel J, Lakhi N, Al-Madhoun AS, Byun Y, Yan J, Eriksson S, Tjarks W (2004). "Synthesis of ethyleneoxide modified 3-carboranyl thymidine analogues and evaluation of their biochemical, physicochemical, and structural properties". Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry. 12 (18): 4769–81. doi:10.1016/j.bmc.2004.07.032. PMID 15336255.
  140. ^ Byun Y, Yan J, Al-Madhoun AS, Johnsamuel J, Yang W, Barth RF, Eriksson S, Tjarks W (2004). "The synthesis and biochemical evaluation of thymidine analogues substituted with nido carborane at the N-3 position". Applied Radiation and Isotopes : Including Data, Instrumentation and Methods for Use in Agriculture, Industry and Medicine. 61 (5): 1125–30. doi:10.1016/j.apradiso.2004.05.023. PMID 15308203.
  141. ^ Yan J, Naeslund C, Al-Madhoun AS, Wang J, Ji W, Cosquer GY, Johnsamuel J, Sjöberg S, Eriksson S, Tjarks W (2002). "Synthesis and biological evaluation of 3'-carboranyl thymidine analogues". Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters. 12 (16): 2209–12. doi:10.1016/s0960-894x(02)00357-8. PMID 12127539.
  142. ^ Barth RF, Yang W, Wu G, Swindall M, Byun Y, Narayanasamy S, Tjarks W, Tordoff K, Moeschberger ML, Eriksson S, Binns PJ, Riley KJ (2008). "Thymidine kinase 1 as a molecular target for boron neutron capture therapy of brain tumors". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 105 (45): 17493–7. Bibcode:2008PNAS..10517493B. doi:10.1073/pnas.0809569105. PMC 2582264. PMID 18981415.
  143. ^ Agarwal HK, McElroy CA, Sjuvarsson E, Eriksson S, Darby MV, Tjarks W (2013). "Synthesis of N3-substituted carboranyl thymidine bioconjugates and their evaluation as substrates of recombinant human thymidine kinase 1". Eur J Med Chem. 60: 456–68. doi:10.1016/j.ejmech.2012.11.041. PMC 3587680. PMID 23318906.
  144. ^ Hasabelnaby S, Goudah A, Agarwal HK, abd Alla MS, Tjarks W (2012). "Synthesis, chemical and enzymatic hydrolysis, and aqueous solubility of amino acid ester prodrugs of 3-carboranyl thymidine analogs for boron neutron capture therapy of brain tumors". Eur J Med Chem. 55: 325–34. doi:10.1016/j.ejmech.2012.07.033. PMC 3432695. PMID 22889558.
  145. ^ Sjuvarsson E, Damaraju VL, Mowles D, Sawyer MB, Tiwari R, Agarwal HK, Khalil A, Hasabelnaby S, Goudah A, Nakkula RJ, Barth RF, Cass CE, Eriksson S, Tjarks W (2013). "Cellular influx, efflux, and anabolism of 3-carboranyl thymidine analogs: potential boron delivery agents for neutron capture therapy". J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther. 347 (2): 388–97. doi:10.1124/jpet.113.207464. PMC 3807065. PMID 24006340.
  146. ^ Agarwal HK, Khalil A, Ishita K, Yang W, Nakkula RJ, Wu LC, Ali T, Tiwari R, Byun Y, Barth RF, Tjarks W (2015). "Synthesis and evaluation of thymidine kinase 1-targeting carboranyl pyrimidine nucleoside analogs for boron neutron capture therapy of cancer". Eur J Med Chem. 100: 197–209. doi:10.1016/j.ejmech.2015.05.042. PMC 4501388. PMID 26087030.
  147. ^ Barth RF, Yang W, Nakkula RJ, Byun Y, Tjarks W, Chu Wu L, Binns PJ, Riley KJ (2015). "Evaluation of TK1 targeting carboranyl thymidine analogs as potential delivery agents for neutron capture therapy of brain tumors". Appl Radiat Isot. 106: 251–5. doi:10.1016/j.apradiso.2015.06.031. PMC 4685942. PMID 26282567.
  148. ^ Khalil A, Ishita K, Ali T, Tjarks W (2013). "N3-substituted thymidine bioconjugates for cancer therapy and imaging". Future Med Chem. 5 (6): 677–92. doi:10.4155/fmc.13.31. PMC 3816973. PMID 23617430.
  149. ^ Merrick CJ (2015). "Transfection with thymidine kinase permits bromodeoxyuridine labelling of DNA replication in the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum". Malar. J. 14 (1): 490. doi:10.1186/s12936-015-1014-7. PMC 4668656. PMID 26630917.
  150. ^ WO application 2006000246, "A method and kit for determination of thymidine kinase activity and use thereof", published 2006-02-24, assigned to Gronowitz JS 
  151. ^ von Euler HP, Öhrvik AB, Eriksson SK (2006). "A non-radiometric method for measuring serum thymidine kinase activity in malignant lymphoma in dogs". Research in Veterinary Science. 80 (1): 17–24. doi:10.1016/j.rvsc.2005.05.001. PMID 16140350.
  152. ^ Pagaduan JV, Ramsden M, O'Neill K, Woolley AT (2015). "Microchip immunoaffinity electrophoresis of antibody-thymidine kinase 1 complex". Electrophoresis. 36 (5): 813–7. doi:10.1002/elps.201400436. PMC 4346389. PMID 25486911.
  153. ^ StÃ¥lhandske P, Wang L, Westberg S, von Euler H, Groth E, Gustafsson SA, Eriksson S, Lennerstrand J (2013). "Homogeneous assay for real-time and simultaneous detection of thymidine kinase 1 and deoxycytidine kinase activities". Anal. Biochem. 432 (2): 155–64. doi:10.1016/j.ab.2012.08.004. PMID 22902741.
  154. ^ Sharif H, von Euler H, Westberg S, He E, Wang L, Eriksson S (2012). "A sensitive and kinetically defined radiochemical assay for canine and human serum thymidine kinase 1 (TK1) to monitor canine malignant lymphoma". Vet. J. 194 (1): 40–7. doi:10.1016/j.tvjl.2012.03.006. PMID 22516918.
  155. ^ Nisman B, Allweis T, Kadouri L, Mali B, Hamburger T, Baras M, Gronowitz S, Peretz T (2013). "Comparison of diagnostic and prognostic performance of two assays measuring thymidine kinase 1 activity in serum of breast cancer patients". Clin. Chem. Lab. Med. 51 (2): 439–47. doi:10.1515/cclm-2012-0162. PMID 23093267.
  156. ^ Chen ZH, Huang SQ, Wang Y, Yang AZ, Wen J, Xu XH, Chen Y, Chen QB, Wang YH, He E, Zhou J, Skog S (2011). "Serological thymidine kinase 1 is a biomarker for early detection of tumours--a health screening study on 35,365 people, using a sensitive chemiluminescent dot blot assay". Sensors. 11 (12): 11064–80. doi:10.3390/s111211064. PMC 3251970. PMID 22247653.
  157. ^ He Q, Zou L, Zhang PA, Lui JX, Skog S, Fornander T (2000). "The clinical significance of thymidine kinase 1 measurement in serum of breast cancer patients using anti-TK1 antibody". The International Journal of Biological Markers. 15 (2): 139–46. doi:10.1177/172460080001500203. PMID 10883887.
  158. ^ Kimmel N, Friedman MG, Sarov I (1982). "Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for detection of herpes simplex virus-specific IgM antibodies". Journal of Virological Methods. 4 (4–5): 219–27. doi:10.1016/0166-0934(82)90068-4. PMID 6286702.
  159. ^ Huang S, Lin J, Guo N, Zhang M, Yun X, Liu S, Zhou J, He E, Skog S (2011). "Elevated serum thymidine kinase 1 predicts risk of pre/early cancerous progression". Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention. 12 (2): 497–505. PMID 21545220.
  160. ^ Kiran Kumar J, Aronsson AC, Pilko G, et al. (2016). "A clinical evaluation of the TK 210 ELISA in sera from breast cancer patients demonstrates high sensitivity and specificity in all stages of disease". Tumour Biol. 37 (9): 11937–45. doi:10.1007/s13277-016-5024-z. PMC 5080325. PMID 27079872.
  161. ^ Kiran Kumar J, Sharif H, Westberg S, von Euler H, Eriksson S (2013). "High levels of inactive thymidine kinase 1 polypeptide detected in sera from dogs with solid tumours by immunoaffinity methods: implications for in vitro diagnostics". Vet. J. 197 (3): 854–60. doi:10.1016/j.tvjl.2013.05.036. PMID 23831216.
  162. ^ Jagarlamudi KK, Hansson LO, Eriksson S (2015). "Breast and prostate cancer patients differ significantly in their serum thymidine kinase 1 (TK1) specific activities compared with those hematological malignancies and blood donors: implications of using serum TK1 as a biomarker". BMC Cancer. 15 (66): 7–9. doi:10.1186/s12885-015-1073-8. PMC 4336758. PMID 25881026.
  163. ^ He Q, Zhang P, Zou L, et al. (2005). "Concentration of thymidine kinase 1 in serum (S-TK1) is a more sensitive proliferation marker in human solid tumors than its activity". Oncol. Rep. 14 (4): 1013–19. PMID 16142366.
  164. ^ Romain S, Spyratos F, Guirou O, Deytieux S, Chinot O, Martin PM (1994). "Technical evaluation of thymidine kinase assay in cytosols from breast cancers. EORTC Receptor Study Group Report". European Journal of Cancer. 30A (14): 2163–5. doi:10.1016/0959-8049(94)00376-g. PMID 7857717.
  165. ^ Arnér ES, Spasokoukotskaja T, Eriksson S (1992). "Selective assays for thymidine kinase 1 and 2 and deoxycytidine kinase and their activities in extracts from human cells and tissues". Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. 188 (2): 712–8. doi:10.1016/0006-291x(92)91114-6. PMID 1359886.
  166. ^ Wang L, Eriksson S (2008). "5-Bromovinyl 2'-deoxyuridine phosphorylation by mitochondrial and cytosolic thymidine kinase (TK2 and TK1) and its use in selective measurement of TK2 activity in crude extracts". Nucleosides, Nucleotides & Nucleic Acids. 27 (6): 858–62. doi:10.1080/15257770802146510. PMID 18600552.
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  169. ^ Herzfeld A, Raper SM, Gore I (1980). "The ontogeny of thymidine kinase in tissues of man and rat". Pediatric Research. 14 (12): 1304–10. doi:10.1203/00006450-198012000-00006. PMID 7208144.
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  171. ^ Nakao K, Fujioka S (1968). "Thymidine kinase activity in the human bone marrow from various blood diseases". Life Sciences. 7 (8): 395–9. doi:10.1016/0024-3205(68)90039-8. PMID 5649653.
  172. ^ Wickramasinghe SN, Olsen I, Saunders JE (1975). "Thymidine kinase activity in human bone marrow cells". Scandinavian Journal of Haematology. 15 (2): 139–44. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0609.1975.tb01065.x. PMID 1059244.
  173. ^ Kuroiwa N, Nakayama M, Fukuda T, Fukui H, Ohwada H, Hiwasa T, Fujimura S (2001). "Specific recognition of cytosolic thymidine kinase in the human lung tumor by monoclonal antibodies raised against recombinant human thymidine kinase". Journal of Immunological Methods. 253 (1–2): 1–11. doi:10.1016/s0022-1759(01)00368-4. PMID 11384664.
  174. ^ a b He Q, Mao Y, Wu J, Decker C, Merza M, Wang N, Eriksson S, Castro J, Skog S (2004). "Cytosolic thymidine kinase is a specific histopathologic tumour marker for breast carcinomas". International Journal of Oncology. 25 (4): 945–53. doi:10.3892/ijo.25.4.945 (inactive 2019-10-04). PMID 15375544.
  175. ^ Mao Y, Wu J, Wang N, He L, Wu C, He Q, Skog S (2002). "A comparative study: immunohistochemical detection of cytosolic thymidine kinase and proliferating cell nuclear antigen in breast cancer". Cancer Investigation. 20 (7–8): 922–31. doi:10.1081/cnv-120005905. PMID 12449723.
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This tab holds the annotation information that is stored in the Pfam database. As we move to using Wikipedia as our main source of annotation, the contents of this tab will be gradually replaced by the Wikipedia tab.

Thymidine kinase Provide feedback

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Internal database links

External database links

This tab holds annotation information from the InterPro database.

InterPro entry IPR001267

Thymidine kinase (TK) (EC) is an ubiquitous enzyme that catalyzes the ATP-dependent phosphorylation of thymidine.

Two different families of thymidine kinase have been identified [PUBMED:3027984, PUBMED:2389555] and are represented in this entry; one groups together thymidine kinase from herpesviruses, as well as cytosolic thymidylate kinases and the second family groups thymidine kinase from various sources that include, vertebrates, bacteria, the bacteriophage T4, poxviruses, African swine fever virus (ASFV) and fish lymphocystis disease virus (FLDV). The major capsid protein of insect iridescent viruses also belongs to this family.

Gene Ontology

The mapping between Pfam and Gene Ontology is provided by InterPro. If you use this data please cite InterPro.

Domain organisation

Below is a listing of the unique domain organisations or architectures in which this domain is found. More...

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Pfam Clan

This family is a member of clan P-loop_NTPase (CL0023), which has the following description:

AAA family proteins often perform chaperone-like functions that assist in the assembly, operation, or disassembly of protein complexes [2].

The clan contains the following 229 members:

6PF2K AAA AAA-ATPase_like AAA_10 AAA_11 AAA_12 AAA_13 AAA_14 AAA_15 AAA_16 AAA_17 AAA_18 AAA_19 AAA_2 AAA_21 AAA_22 AAA_23 AAA_24 AAA_25 AAA_26 AAA_27 AAA_28 AAA_29 AAA_3 AAA_30 AAA_31 AAA_32 AAA_33 AAA_34 AAA_35 AAA_5 AAA_6 AAA_7 AAA_8 AAA_9 AAA_PrkA ABC_ATPase ABC_tran ABC_tran_Xtn Adeno_IVa2 Adenylsucc_synt ADK AFG1_ATPase AIG1 APS_kinase Arf ArsA_ATPase ATP-synt_ab ATP_bind_1 ATP_bind_2 ATPase ATPase_2 Bac_DnaA BCA_ABC_TP_C Beta-Casp Cas_Csn2 Cas_St_Csn2 CbiA CBP_BcsQ CDC73_C CENP-M CFTR_R CLP1_P CMS1 CoaE CobA_CobO_BtuR CobU cobW CPT CSM2 CTP_synth_N Cytidylate_kin Cytidylate_kin2 DAP3 DBINO DEAD DEAD_2 DLIC DNA_pack_C DNA_pack_N DNA_pol3_delta DNA_pol3_delta2 DnaB_C dNK DUF1611 DUF1726 DUF2075 DUF2326 DUF2478 DUF257 DUF2791 DUF2813 DUF3584 DUF463 DUF815 DUF853 DUF87 DUF927 Dynamin_N Dynein_heavy Elong_Iki1 ELP6 ERCC3_RAD25_C Exonuc_V_gamma FeoB_N Fer4_NifH Flavi_DEAD FTHFS FtsK_SpoIIIE G-alpha Gal-3-0_sulfotr GBP GBP_C GTP_EFTU Gtr1_RagA Guanylate_kin GvpD HDA2-3 Helicase_C Helicase_C_2 Helicase_C_4 Helicase_RecD Herpes_Helicase Herpes_ori_bp Herpes_TK HSA HydF_dimer HydF_tetramer Hydin_ADK IIGP IPPT IPT IstB_IS21 KAP_NTPase KdpD Kinase-PPPase Kinesin KTI12 LAP1C Lon_2 LpxK MCM MeaB MEDS Mg_chelatase Microtub_bd MipZ MMR_HSR1 MMR_HSR1_C MobB MukB MutS_V Myosin_head NACHT NB-ARC NOG1 NTPase_1 NTPase_P4 ORC3_N ParA Parvo_NS1 PAXNEB PduV-EutP PhoH PIF1 Ploopntkinase1 Ploopntkinase2 Ploopntkinase3 Podovirus_Gp16 Polyoma_lg_T_C Pox_A32 PPK2 PPV_E1_C PRK PSY3 Rad17 Rad51 Ras RecA ResIII RHD3 RHSP RNA12 RNA_helicase Roc RsgA_GTPase RuvB_N SbcCD_C SecA_DEAD Septin Sigma54_activ_2 Sigma54_activat SKI SMC_N SNF2_N Spore_IV_A SRP54 SRPRB SulA Sulfotransfer_1 Sulfotransfer_2 Sulfotransfer_3 Sulfotransfer_4 Sulphotransf SWI2_SNF2 T2SSE T4SS-DNA_transf Terminase_1 Terminase_3 Terminase_6 Terminase_GpA Thymidylate_kin TIP49 TK TniB Torsin TraG-D_C tRNA_lig_kinase TrwB_AAD_bind TsaE UvrB UvrD-helicase UvrD_C UvrD_C_2 Viral_helicase1 VirC1 VirE Zeta_toxin Zot


We store a range of different sequence alignments for families. As well as the seed alignment from which the family is built, we provide the full alignment, generated by searching the sequence database (reference proteomes) using the family HMM. We also generate alignments using four representative proteomes (RP) sets, the UniProtKB sequence database, the NCBI sequence database, and our metagenomics sequence database. More...

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We make a range of alignments for each Pfam-A family. You can see a description of each above. You can view these alignments in various ways but please note that some types of alignment are never generated while others may not be available for all families, most commonly because the alignments are too large to handle.

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You can also download a FASTA format file containing the full-length sequences for all sequences in the full alignment.

HMM logo

HMM logos is one way of visualising profile HMMs. Logos provide a quick overview of the properties of an HMM in a graphical form. You can see a more detailed description of HMM logos and find out how you can interpret them here. More...


This page displays the phylogenetic tree for this family's seed alignment. We use FastTree to calculate neighbour join trees with a local bootstrap based on 100 resamples (shown next to the tree nodes). FastTree calculates approximately-maximum-likelihood phylogenetic trees from our seed alignment.

Note: You can also download the data file for the tree.

Curation and family details

This section shows the detailed information about the Pfam family. You can see the definitions of many of the terms in this section in the glossary and a fuller explanation of the scoring system that we use in the scores section of the help pages.

Curation View help on the curation process

Seed source: Prosite
Previous IDs: none
Type: Family
Sequence Ontology: SO:0100021
Author: Finn RD
Number in seed: 11
Number in full: 5143
Average length of the domain: 177.70 aa
Average identity of full alignment: 34 %
Average coverage of the sequence by the domain: 86.43 %

HMM information View help on HMM parameters

HMM build commands:
build method: hmmbuild -o /dev/null HMM SEED
search method: hmmsearch -Z 45638612 -E 1000 --cpu 4 HMM pfamseq
Model details:
Parameter Sequence Domain
Gathering cut-off 20.6 20.6
Trusted cut-off 20.6 20.6
Noise cut-off 20.5 20.5
Model length: 177
Family (HMM) version: 18
Download: download the raw HMM for this family

Species distribution

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Colour assignments

Archea Archea Eukaryota Eukaryota
Bacteria Bacteria Other sequences Other sequences
Viruses Viruses Unclassified Unclassified
Viroids Viroids Unclassified sequence Unclassified sequence


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This visualisation provides a simple graphical representation of the distribution of this family across species. You can find the original interactive tree in the adjacent tab. More...

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For those sequences which have a structure in the Protein DataBank, we use the mapping between UniProt, PDB and Pfam coordinate systems from the PDBe group, to allow us to map Pfam domains onto UniProt sequences and three-dimensional protein structures. The table below shows the structures on which the TK domain has been found. There are 77 instances of this domain found in the PDB. Note that there may be multiple copies of the domain in a single PDB structure, since many structures contain multiple copies of the same protein sequence.

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