Biochemistry, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version

July 1999


Published in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 259,436-442 (1999).


Methionine synthase is one of two key enzymes involved in the removal of the metabolite, homocysteine. Elevated homocysteine levels constitute a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases and for neural tube defects. In cell culture, the activity of methionine synthase is enhanced several-fold by supplementation with its cofactor, B12. The mechanism of this regulation is unknown, although it has been ascribed to a shift from apoenzyme to holoenzyme. Using sensitive assay techniques as well as a combination of Northern and Western analyses, we demonstrate that the effect of B,, on induction of methionine synthase activity is paralleled by an increase in the level of the enzyme. These studies exclude conversion of apoenzyme to holoenzyme as a basis for activation that had been described previously. Since the mRNA levels do not change during the same period that the methionine synthase levels increase, regulation of this protein by its cofactor must be exerted post-transcriptionally.