Biotin requirements for DNA damage prevention

Mutat Res. 2012 May 1;733(1-2):58-60. doi: 10.1016/j.mrfmmm.2011.08.001. Epub 2011 Aug 17.


Biotin serves as a covalently bound coenzyme in five human carboxylases; biotin is also attached to histones H2A, H3, and H4, although the abundance of biotinylated histones is low. Biotinylation of both carboxylases and histones is catalyzed by holocarboxylase synthetase. Human biotin requirements are unknown. Recommendations for adequate intake of biotin are based on the typical intake of biotin in an apparently healthy population, which is only a crude estimate of the true intake due to analytical problems. Importantly, intake recommendations do not take into account possible effects of biotin deficiency on impairing genome stability. Recent studies suggest that biotin deficiency causes de-repression of long terminal repeats, thereby causing genome instability. While it was originally proposed that these effects are caused by loss of biotinylated histones, more recent evidence suggests a more immediate role of holocarboxylase synthetase in forming multiprotein complexes in chromatin that are important for gene repression. Holocarboxylase synthetase appears to interact physically with the methyl-CpG-binding domain protein 2 and, perhaps, histone methyl transferases, thereby creating epigenetic synergies between biotinylation and methylation events. These observations might offer a mechanistic explanation for some of the birth defects seen in biotin-deficient animal models.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biotin / deficiency
  • Biotin / metabolism
  • Biotinylation
  • DNA Damage*
  • Genomic Instability
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Terminal Repeat Sequences


  • Biotin