Why Threonine Is an Essential Amino Acid in Mammals and Birds: Studies at the Enzyme Level

Biochemistry (Mosc). 2018 Jul;83(7):795-799. doi: 10.1134/S0006297918070039.


The only pathway for the synthesis of essential amino acids in vertebrates is reversible transamination of their keto analogs with glutamic acid. At the same time, it is commonly accepted that such essential amino acids as lysine and threonine are not involved in transamination and, therefore, cannot be synthesized from their keto analogs. However, using radiolabeled isotopes, synthesis of threonine was demonstrated in rat liver and in a reaction mixture containing chicken liver threonine dehydrogenase. In the review, we discuss why threonine is an essential amino acid in mammals and birds based on the pathways of threonine biosynthesis in these two classes of vertebrates.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Birds / metabolism*
  • Enzymes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mammals / metabolism*
  • Threonine / biosynthesis
  • Threonine / metabolism*


  • Enzymes
  • Threonine