NAD(+) biosynthesis and salvage--a phylogenetic perspective

FEBS J. 2012 Sep;279(18):3355-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-4658.2012.08559.x. Epub 2012 Apr 4.


NAD is best known as an electron carrier and a cosubstrate of various redox reactions. However, over the past 20 years, NAD(+) has been shown to be a key signaling molecule that mediates post-translational protein modifications and serves as precursor of ADP-ribose-containing messenger molecules, which are involved in calcium mobilization. In contrast to its role as a redox carrier, NAD(+)-dependent signaling processes involve the release of nicotinamide (Nam) and require constant replenishment of cellular NAD(+) pools. So far, very little is known about the evolution of NAD(P) synthesis in eukaryotes. In the present study, genes involved in NAD(P) metabolism in 45 species were identified and analyzed with regard to similarities and differences in NAD(P) synthesis. The results show that the Preiss-Handler pathway and NAD(+) kinase are present in all organisms investigated, and thus seem to be ancestral routes. Additionally, two pathways exist that convert Nam to NAD(+); we identified several species that have apparently functional copies of both biosynthetic routes, which have been thought to be mutually exclusive. Furthermore, our findings suggest the parallel phylogenetic appearance of Nam N-methyltransferase, Nam phosphoribosyl transferase, and poly-ADP-ribosyltransferases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Diphosphate Ribose / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Eukaryota / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways
  • NAD / biosynthesis*
  • Niacinamide / metabolism
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor) / metabolism
  • Phylogeny
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism


  • NAD
  • Adenosine Diphosphate Ribose
  • Niacinamide
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor)
  • NAD kinase