How biotin ― a B-complex vitamin ― is biosynthesized is presented in an article published online this week in Nature Chemical Biology. Though biotin was discovered over 70 years ago, the early steps of biotin synthesis have long been an enigma; these results will allow biotin to be produced through bacterial fermentations.
Biotin is an essential nutrient for life as it plays a key role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins. Two genes involved in the biosynthesis of biotin had been previously identified: BioC and BioH. However, their functions as anticipated from bioinformatics analysis did not fit with the expected steps necessary for the creation of biotin.
John Cronan and colleagues have discovered that these two genes don't complete the transformations of biotin; rather they modify a biotin precursor to allow other cellular machinery to complete the steps.