Cobalamin coenzyme forms are not likely to be superior to cyano- and hydroxyl-cobalamin in prevention or treatment of cobalamin deficiency
5-Methylcytosine synthesis in DNA involves the transfer of methyl groups from S-adenosyl-methionine to the 5'-position of cytosine through the action of DNA (cytosine-5)-methyltransferase. The rate of this reaction has been found to be enhanced by cobalt ions. We therefore analyzed the influence of vitamin B12 and related compounds containing cobalt on DNA methylation. Vitamin B12, methylcobalamin, and coenzyme B12 were found to enhance significantly the de novo DNA methylation in the presence of S-adenosylmethionine for concentrations up to 1 microM, but at higher concentrations these compounds were found to inhibit DNA methylation. Methylcobalamin behaves as a competitive inhibitor of the enzymatic methylation reaction (Ki = 15 microM), the Km for S-adenosylmethionine being 8 microM. In addition, the use of radioactive methylcobalamin shows that it can be used as a methyl donor in the de novo and maintenance DNA methylation reactions. Thus, two DNA methylation pathways could exist: one involving methylation from S-adenosylmethionine and a second one involving methylation from methylcobalamin.