Send to

Choose Destination
Biochem J. 2003 Mar 15;370(Pt 3):987-93.

Phosphatidylethanolamine N-methyltransferase (PEMT) knockout mice have hepatic steatosis and abnormal hepatic choline metabolite concentrations despite ingesting a recommended dietary intake of choline.

Author information

Department of Nutrition, CB #7461, School of Public Health, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-7400, USA.


Choline is an essential nutrient for humans and is derived from the diet as well as from de novo synthesis involving methylation of phosphatidylethanolamine catalysed by the enzyme phosphatidylethanolamine N -methyltransferase (PEMT). This is the only known pathway that produces new choline molecules. We used mice with a disrupted Pemt-2 gene (which encodes PEMT; Pemt (-/-)) that have previously been shown to possess no hepatic PEMT enzyme. Male, female and pregnant Pemt (-/-) and wild-type mice ( n =5-6 per diet group) were fed diets of different choline content (deficient, control, and supplemented). Livers were collected and analysed for choline metabolites, steatosis, and apoptotic [terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP-biotin nick end-labelling (TUNEL)] positive cells. We found that, in livers of Pemt (-/-) mice fed any of the diets, there was hepatic steatosis and significantly higher occurrence of TUNEL positive cells compared with wild-type controls. In male, female and pregnant mice, liver phosphatidylcholine concentrations were significantly decreased in Pemt (-/-) choline deficient and in Pemt (-/-) choline control groups but returned to normal in Pemt (-/-) choline supplemented groups. Phosphocholine concentrations in liver were significantly diminished in knockout mice even when choline was supplemented to above dietary requirements. These results show that PEMT normally supplies a significant portion of the daily choline requirement in the mouse and, when this pathway is knocked out, mice are unable to attain normal concentrations of all choline metabolites even with a supplemental source of dietary choline.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center