Betaine homocysteine S-methyltransferase: just a regulator of homocysteine metabolism?

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2006 Dec;63(23):2792-803. doi: 10.1007/s00018-006-6249-6.


Betaine homocysteine methyltransferase (BHMT), a Zn(2+)-dependent thiolmethyltransferase, contributes to the regulation of homocysteine levels, increases in which are considered a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Most plasma homocysteine is generated through the liver methionine cycle, in which BHMT metabolizes approximately 25% of this non-protein amino acid. This process allows recovery of one of the three methylation equivalents used in phosphatidylcholine synthesis through transmethylation, a major homocysteine-producing pathway. Although BHMT has been known for over 40 years, the difficulties encountered in its isolation precluded detailed studies until very recently. Thus, the last 10 years, since the sequence became available, have yielded extensive structural and functional data. Moreover, recent findings offer clues for potential new functions for BHMT. The purpose of this review is to provide an integrated view of the knowledge available on BHMT, and to analyze its putative roles in other processes through interactions uncover to date.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Betaine / metabolism
  • Betaine-Homocysteine S-Methyltransferase / chemistry
  • Betaine-Homocysteine S-Methyltransferase / genetics
  • Betaine-Homocysteine S-Methyltransferase / metabolism*
  • Homocysteine / metabolism*
  • Hormones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Methionine / metabolism
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Protein Folding
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Hormones
  • Homocysteine
  • Betaine
  • Methionine
  • Betaine-Homocysteine S-Methyltransferase