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Vitamin B12 synthesis exposed

Researchers observe an unusual enzyme and mechanism of action in the final steps of making B12

Andrea Gawrylewski
Scientists have worked out the final steps of vitamin B12 biosynthesis, which involve the unusual transformation of one vitamin -- a flavin -- into another, according to a report in this week's Nature. The results provide the finishing touches to scientists' understanding of the synthesis of this complex molecule. Vitamin B12 "has played a role in fascinating chemists and biochemists for 50 years," A.I. Scott, of Texas A&M University, who peer-reviewed the paper for Nature, told The Scientist. "Nature put this beautiful cofactor in front of us and it's fascinating to realize step by step how the whole thing was built. It's like detective work," added Scott, who was not involved in the research.Vitamin B12, the only vitamin synthesized exclusively by microorganisms, is approximately three times larger than all other vitamins, requiring about 30 enzyme steps for its synthesis. Until now, the final stages...

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