The enigma of cobalamin (Vitamin B12) biosynthesis in Porphyromonas gingivalis. Identification and characterization of a functional corrin pathway

J Biol Chem. 2000 Dec 22;275(51):40316-23. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M007146200.


The ability of Porphyromonas gingivalis to biosynthesize tetrapyrroles de novo has been investigated. Extracts of the bacterium do not possess activity for 5- aminolevulinic-acid dehydratase or porphobilinogen deaminase, two key enzymes involved in the synthesis of uroporphyrinogen III. Similarly, it was not possible to detect any genetic evidence for these early enzymes with the use of degenerate polymerase chain reaction. However, the bacterium does appear to harbor some of the enzymes for cobalamin biosynthesis since cobyric acid, a pathway intermediate, was converted into cobinamide. Furthermore, degenerate polymerase chain reaction with primers to cbiP, which encodes cobyric-acid synthase, produced a fragment with a high degree of identity to Salmonella typhimurium cbiP. Indeed, the recently released genome sequence data confirmed the presence of cbiP together with 14 other genes of the cobalamin pathway. A number of these genes were cloned and functionally characterized. Although P. gingivalis harbors all the genes necessary to convert precorrin-2 into cobalamin, it is missing the genes for the synthesis of precorrin-2. Either the organism has a novel pathway for the synthesis of precorrin-2, or more likely, it has lost this early part of the pathway. The remainder of the pathway may be being maintained to act as a salvage route for corrin synthesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Corrinoids
  • DNA Primers
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Genetic Complementation Test
  • Methylmalonyl-CoA Mutase / genetics
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Porphyrins / metabolism*
  • Porphyromonas gingivalis / enzymology
  • Porphyromonas gingivalis / growth & development
  • Porphyromonas gingivalis / metabolism*
  • Vitamin B 12 / biosynthesis*


  • Corrinoids
  • DNA Primers
  • Porphyrins
  • Methylmalonyl-CoA Mutase
  • Vitamin B 12