Methionine is also an important part of angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels. Supplementation may benefit those suffering from copper poisoning. Overconsumption of methionine, the methyl group donor in DNA methylation, is related to cancer growth in a number of studies. Methionine was first isolated in 1921 by John Howard Mueller.
Together with cysteine, methionine is one of two sulfur-containing proteinogenic amino acids. Excluding the few exceptions where methionine may act as a redox sensor (e.g.,), methionine residues do not have a catalytic role. This is in contrast to cysteine residues, where the thiol group has a catalytic role in many proteins. The thioether within methionine does however have a minor structural role due to the stability effect of S/π interactions between the side chain sulfur atom and aromatic amino acids in one-third of all known protein structures. This lack of a strong role is reflected in experiments where little effect is seen in proteins where methionine is replaced by norleucine, a straight hydrocarbon sidechain amino acid which lacks the thioether.
It has been conjectured that norleucine was present in early versions of the genetic code, but methionine intruded into the final version of the genetic code due to the fact it is used in the cofactor S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e). This situation is not unique and may have occurred with ornithine and arginine.
Methionine is one of only two amino acids encoded by a single codon (AUG) in the standard genetic code (tryptophan, encoded by UGG, is the other). In reflection to the evolutionary origin of its codon, the other AUN codons encode isoleucine, which is also a hydrophobic amino acid. In the mitochondrial genome of several organisms, including metazoa and yeast, the codon AUA also encodes for methionine. In the standard genetic code AUA codes for isoleucine and the respective tRNA (ileX in Escherichia coli) uses the unusual base lysidine (bacteria) or agmatidine (archaea) to discriminate against AUG.
The methionine-derivative S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e) is a cofactor that serves mainly as a methyl donor. SAM-e is composed of an adenosyl molecule (via 5′ carbon) attached to the sulfur of methionine, therefore making it a sulfonium cation (i.e., three substituents and positive charge). The sulfur acts as a soft Lewis acid (i.e., donor/electrophile) which allows the S-methyl group to be transferred to an oxygen, nitrogen, or aromatic system, often with the aid of other cofactors such as cobalamin (vitamin B12 in humans). Some enzymes use SAM-e to initiate a radical reaction; these are called radical SAM-e enzymes.
As a result of the transfer of the methyl group, S-adenosylhomocysteine is obtained. In bacteria, this is either regenerated by methylation or is salvaged by removing the adenine and the homocysteine, leaving the compound dihydroxypentandione to spontaneously convert into autoinducer-2, which is excreted as a waste product or quorum signal.
First, aspartic acid is converted via β-aspartyl semialdehyde into homoserine by two reduction steps of the terminal carboxyl group (homoserine has therefore a γ-hydroxyl, hence the homo- series). The intermediate aspartate semialdehyde is the branching point with the lysine biosynthetic pathway, where it is instead condensed with pyruvate. Homoserine is the branching point with the threonine pathway, where instead it is isomerised after activating the terminal hydroxyl with phosphate (also used for methionine biosynthesis in plants).
Homoserine is then activated with a phosphate, succinyl or an acetyl group on the hydroxyl.
In plants and possibly in some bacteria, phosphate is used. This step is shared with threonine biosynthesis.
In most organisms, an acetyl group is used to activate the homoserine. This can be catalysed in bacteria by an enzyme encoded by metX or metA (not homologues).
In enterobacteria and a limited number of other organisms, succinate is used. The enzyme that catalyses the reaction is MetA and the specificity for acetyl-CoA and succinyl-CoA is dictated by a single residue. The physiological basis for the preference of acetyl-CoA or succinyl-CoA is unknown, but such alternative routes are present in some other pathways (e.g. lysine biosynthesis and arginine biosynthesis).
If it reacts with methanethiol, it produces methionine directly. Methanethiol is a byproduct of catabolic pathway of certain compounds, therefore this route is more uncommon.
If homocysteine is produced, the thiol group is methylated, yielding methionine. Two methionine synthases are known; one is cobalamin (vitamin B12) dependent and one is independent.
The pathway using cysteine is called the "transsulfuration pathway", while the pathway using hydrogen sulfide (or methanethiol) is called "direct-sulfurylation pathway".
Cysteine is similarly produced, namely it can be made from an activated serine and either from homocysteine ("reverse transsulfurylation route") or from hydrogen sulfide ("direct sulfurylation route"); the activated serine is generally O-acetylserine (via CysK or CysM in E. coli), but in Aeropyrum pernix and some other archaea O-phosphoserine is used. CysK and CysM are homologues, but belong to the PLP fold type III clade.
Homocysteine can also be remethylated using glycine betaine (N,N,N-trimethylglycine, TMG) to methionine via the enzyme betaine-homocysteine methyltransferase (E.C.126.96.36.199, BHMT). BHMT makes up to 1.5% of all the soluble protein of the liver, and recent evidence suggests that it may have a greater influence on methionine and homocysteine homeostasis than methionine synthase.
Reverse-transulfurylation pathway: conversion to cysteine
The industrial synthesis combines acrolein, methanethiol, and cyanide, which affords the hydantoin.Racemic methionine can also be synthesized from diethyl sodium phthalimidomalonate by alkylation with chloroethylmethylsulfide (ClCH2CH2SCH3) followed by hydrolysis and decarboxylation.
The Food and Nutrition Board of the U.S. Institute of Medicine set Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for essential amino acids in 2002. For methionine combined with cysteine, for adults 19 years and older, 19 mg/kg body weight/day.
This translates to about 1.33 grams per day for a 70 kilogram individual.
High levels of methionine can be found in eggs, meat, and fish; sesame seeds, Brazil nuts, and some other plant seeds; and cereal grains. Most fruits and vegetables contain very little. Most legumes, though protein dense, are low in methionine. Proteins without adequate methionine are not considered to be complete proteins. For that reason, racemic methionine is sometimes added as an ingredient to pet foods.
Some scientific evidence indicates restricting methionine consumption can increase lifespans in fruit flies.
A 2005 study showed methionine restriction without energy restriction extends mouse lifespans. This extension requires intact growth hormone signaling, as animals without intact growth-hormone signaling do not have a further increase in lifespan when methionine restricted. The metabolic response to methionine restriction is also altered in mouse growth hormone signaling mutants.
A study published in Nature showed adding just the essential amino acid methionine to the diet of fruit flies under dietary restriction, including restriction of essential amino acids (EAAs), restored fertility without reducing the longer lifespans that are typical of dietary restriction, leading the researchers to determine that methionine "acts in combination with one or more other EAAs to shorten lifespan." Restoring methionine to the diet of mice on a dietary restriction regimen blocks many acute benefits of dietary restriction, a process that may be mediated by increased production of hydrogen sulfide.
Methionine restriction can increase circulating liver hormone FGF21 between 5-fold and 10-fold in mice. Several studies showed that methionine restriction also inhibits aging-related disease processes in mice and inhibits colon carcinogenesis in rats. In humans, methionine restriction through dietary modification could be achieved through a plant-based diet.
Restriction of dietary methionine reduces levels of its catabolite S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e), resulting is a subsequent loss of histone methylation. An active process mediated by a specific, preserved methylation of H3K9 preserves the memory of the original methylation profile, allowing the epigenome to be restored when dietary methionine levels return.
However, since methionine is an essential amino acid, it cannot be entirely removed from animals' diets without disease or death occurring over time. For example, rats fed a diet without methionine and choline developed steatohepatitis (fatty liver) and anemia, and lost two-thirds of their body weight over 5 weeks. Administration of methionine ameliorated the pathological consequences of methionine deprivation. Short-term removal of only methionine from the diet can reverse diet-induced obesity and promotes insulin sensitivity in mice, and methionine restriction also protects a mouse model of spontaneous, polygenic obesity and diabetes.
Loss of methionine has been linked to senile greying of hair. Its lack leads to a buildup of hydrogen peroxide in hair follicles, a reduction in tyrosinase effectiveness, and a gradual loss of hair color. Methionine raises the intracellular concentration of glutathione, thereby promoting antioxidant mediated cell defense and redox regulation. It also protects cells against dopamine induced nigral cell loss by binding oxidative metabolites.
DL-Methionine is sometimes given as a supplement to dogs; It helps reduce the chances of kidney stones in dogs. Methionine is also known to increase the urinary excretion of quinidine by acidifying the urine. Aminoglycoside antibiotics used to treat urinary tract infections work best in alkaline conditions, and urinary acidification from using methionine can reduce its effectiveness. If a dog is on a diet that acidifies the urine, methionine should not be used.
Methionine is allowed as a supplement to organic poultry feed under the US certified organic program.
Methionine can be used as a nontoxic pesticide option against giant swallowtail caterpillars, which are a serious pest to orange crops.
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