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FASEB J. 2002 Jan;16(1):15-26.

S-Adenosylmethionine: a control switch that regulates liver function.

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  • 1Division of Hepatology and Gene Therapy, School of Medicine, University of Navarra, 31008 Pamplona, Spain.


Genome sequence analysis reveals that all organisms synthesize S-adenosylmethionine (AdoMet) and that a large fraction of all genes is AdoMet-dependent methyltransferases. AdoMet-dependent methylation has been shown to be central to many biological processes. Up to 85% of all methylation reactions and as much as 48% of methionine metabolism occur in the liver, which indicates the crucial importance of this organ in the regulation of blood methionine. Of the two mammalian genes (MAT1A, MAT2A) that encode methionine adenosyltransferase (MAT, the enzyme that makes AdoMet), MAT1A is specifically expressed in adult liver. It now appears that growth factors, cytokines, and hormones regulate liver MAT mRNA levels and enzyme activity and that AdoMet should not be viewed only as an intermediate metabolite in methionine catabolism, but also as an intracellular control switch that regulates essential hepatic functions such as regeneration, differentiation, and the sensitivity of this organ to injury. The aim of this review is to integrate these recent findings linking AdoMet with liver growth, differentiation, and injury into a comprehensive model. With the availability of AdoMet as a nutritional supplement and evidence of its beneficial role in various liver diseases, this review offers insight into its mechanism of action.

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