Betaine homocysteine methyltransferase (BHMT) and BHMT-2 enzymes methylate homocysteine to form methionine using betaine and S-methylmethionine, respectively. These activities are observed only in the liver of adult rodents, but in adult humans and pigs these activities are detected in both the liver and kidney, indicating the pig is a more appropriate model for studying the biochemical and physiological roles of these enzymes in human biology. Porcine BHMT and BHMT-2 cDNAs were cloned and sequenced, and their 5' and 3' UTR were amplified using RLM-RACE. The BHMT transcript had significantly longer 5' and 3' UTRs than BHMT-2. The pig BHMT and BHMT-2 genes span approximately 26 and 16. kb, respectively, and both genes have 8 exons. The deduced amino acid sequences of BHMT and BHMT-2 contain 407 and 363 amino acids, respectively, and shared 78% amino acid identity. No promoter element (TATA or CAAT box) was observed for either BHMT or BHMT-2, although a CpG island surrounding the promoter and transcriptional start site was observed in both genes implying that methylation could regulate their expression. Using qPCR, it was determined that BHMT and BHMT-2 transcripts are very abundant in liver and kidney cortex, whereas the expression is significantly less in other tissues. These findings confirm that the expression pattern of BHMT and BHMT-2 genes in pigs is similar to humans, supporting the use of the pig as an animal model to study the genetics and regulation of BHMT and BHMT-2 expression.
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