The structural and biochemical foundations of thiamin biosynthesis

Annu Rev Biochem. 2009:78:569-603. doi: 10.1146/annurev.biochem.78.072407.102340.


Thiamin is synthesized by most prokaryotes and by eukaryotes such as yeast and plants. In all cases, the thiazole and pyrimidine moieties are synthesized in separate branches of the pathway and coupled to form thiamin phosphate. A final phosphorylation gives thiamin pyrophosphate, the active form of the cofactor. Over the past decade or so, biochemical and structural studies have elucidated most of the details of the thiamin biosynthetic pathway in bacteria. Formation of the thiazole requires six gene products, and formation of the pyrimidine requires two. In contrast, details of the thiamin biosynthetic pathway in yeast are only just beginning to emerge. Only one gene product is required for the biosynthesis of the thiazole and one for the biosynthesis of the pyrimidine. Thiamin can also be transported into the cell and can be salvaged through several routes. In addition, two thiamin degrading enzymes have been characterized, one of which is linked to a novel salvage pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Eukaryotic Cells / metabolism
  • Fungi / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Plants / metabolism
  • Prokaryotic Cells / metabolism
  • Pyrimidines / chemistry
  • Thiamine / biosynthesis*
  • Thiamine / chemistry
  • Thiazoles / chemistry


  • Pyrimidines
  • Thiazoles
  • pyrimidine
  • Thiamine