Excess S-adenosylmethionine reroutes phosphatidylethanolamine towards phosphatidylcholine and triglyceride synthesis

Hepatology. 2013 Oct;58(4):1296-305. doi: 10.1002/hep.26399. Epub 2013 Aug 14.


Methionine adenosyltransferase 1A (MAT1A) and glycine N-methyltransferase (GNMT) are the primary genes involved in hepatic S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) synthesis and degradation, respectively. Mat1a ablation in mice induces a decrease in hepatic SAMe, activation of lipogenesis, inhibition of triglyceride (TG) release, and steatosis. Gnmt-deficient mice, despite showing a large increase in hepatic SAMe, also develop steatosis. We hypothesized that as an adaptive response to hepatic SAMe accumulation, phosphatidylcholine (PC) synthesis by way of the phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) N-methyltransferase (PEMT) pathway is stimulated in Gnmt(-/-) mice. We also propose that the excess PC thus generated is catabolized, leading to TG synthesis and steatosis by way of diglyceride (DG) generation. We observed that Gnmt(-/-) mice present with normal hepatic lipogenesis and increased TG release. We also observed that the flux from PE to PC is stimulated in the liver of Gnmt(-/-) mice and that this results in a reduction in PE content and a marked increase in DG and TG. Conversely, reduction of hepatic SAMe following the administration of a methionine-deficient diet reverted the flux from PE to PC of Gnmt(-/-) mice to that of wildtype animals and normalized DG and TG content preventing the development of steatosis. Gnmt(-/-) mice with an additional deletion of perilipin2, the predominant lipid droplet protein, maintain high SAMe levels, with a concurrent increased flux from PE to PC, but do not develop liver steatosis.

Conclusion: These findings indicate that excess SAMe reroutes PE towards PC and TG synthesis and lipid sequestration.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fatty Liver / metabolism
  • Fatty Liver / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Glycine N-Methyltransferase / deficiency
  • Glycine N-Methyltransferase / genetics
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Lipid Metabolism / physiology
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / deficiency
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Perilipin-2
  • Phosphatidylcholines / metabolism*
  • Phosphatidylethanolamines / metabolism*
  • S-Adenosylmethionine / metabolism*
  • Triglycerides / metabolism*


  • Membrane Proteins
  • Perilipin-2
  • Phosphatidylcholines
  • Phosphatidylethanolamines
  • Triglycerides
  • phosphatidylethanolamine
  • S-Adenosylmethionine
  • Glycine N-Methyltransferase
  • Gnmt protein, mouse