Elevation in plasma homocysteine concentration has been associated with vascular disease and neural tube defects. Methionine synthase is a vitamin B(12)-dependent enzyme that catalyses the remethylation of homocysteine to methionine. Therefore, defects in this enzyme may result in elevated homocysteine levels. One relatively common polymorphism in the methionine synthase gene (D919G) is an A to G transition at bp 2,756, which converts an aspartic acid residue believed to be part of a helix involved in co-factor binding to a glycine. We have investigated the effect of this polymorphism on plasma homocysteine levels in a working male population (n = 607) in which we previously described the relationship of the C677T "thermolabile" methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) polymorphism with homocysteine levels. We found that the methionine synthase D919G polymorphism is significantly (P = 0.03) associated with homocysteine concentration, and the DD genotype contributes to a moderate increase in homocysteine levels across the homocysteine distribution (OR = 1.58, DD genotype in the upper half of the homocysteine distribution, P = 0.006). Unlike thermolabile MTHFR, the homocysteine-elevating effects of the methionine synthase polymorphism are independent of folate and B(12) levels; however, the DD genotype has a larger homocysteine-elevating effect in individuals with low B(6) levels. This polymorphism may, therefore, make a moderate, but significant, contribution to clinical conditions that are associated with elevated homocysteine.
Copyright 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.