Betaine-homocysteine methyltransferase: Human liver genotype-phenotype correlation

Qiping Feng, Krishna Kalari, Brooke L. Fridley, Gregory Jenkins, Yuan Ji, Ryan Abo, Scott Hebbring, Jianping Zhang, Monica D. Nye, J. Steven Leeder, Richard M. Weinshilboum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Betaine-homocysteine methyltransferase (BHMT) catalyzes the remethylation of homocysteine. BHMT is highly expressed in the human liver. In the liver, BHMT catalyzes up to 50% of homocysteine metabolism. Understanding the relationship between BHMT genetic polymorphisms and function might increase our understanding of the role of this reaction in homocysteine remethylation and in S-adenosylmethionine-dependent methylation. To help achieve those goals, we measured levels of BHMT enzyme activity and immunoreactive protein in 268 human hepatic surgical biopsy samples from adult subjects as well as 73 fetal hepatic tissue samples obtained at different gestational ages. BHMT protein levels were correlated significantly (p< 0.001) with levels of enzyme activity in both fetal and adult tissues, but both were decreased in fetal tissue when compared with levels in the adult hepatic biopsies. To determine possible genotype-phenotype correlations, 12 tag SNPs for BHMT and the closely related BHMT2 gene were selected from SNPs observed during our own gene resequencing studies as well as from HapMap. These SNPs data were used to genotype DNA from the adult hepatic surgical biopsy samples, and genotype-phenotype association analysis was performed. Three SNPs (rs41272270, rs16876512, and rs6875201), located 28. kb upstream, in the 5′-UTR and in intron 1 of BHMT, respectively, were significantly correlated with both BHMT activity (p = 3.41E-8, 2.55E-9 and 2.46E-10, respectively) and protein levels (p = 5.78E-5, 1.08E-5 and 6.92E-6, respectively). We also imputed 230 additional SNPs across the BHMT and BHMT2 genes, identifying an additional imputed SNP, rs7700790, that was also highly associated with hepatic BHMT enzyme activity and protein. However, none of the 3 genotyped or one imputed SNPs displayed a "shift" during electrophoretic mobility shift assays. These observations may help us to understand individual variation in the regulation of BHMT in the human liver and its possible relationship to variation in methylation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-133
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular genetics and metabolism
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • BHMT
  • BHMT2
  • Betaine-homocysteine methyltransferase
  • Genotype-phenotype correlation
  • Hepatic tissue
  • SNPs
  • Single nucleotide polymorphisms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Endocrinology


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