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Propionyl-CoA and adenosylcobalamin metabolism in Caenorhabditis elegans: evidence for a role of methylmalonyl-CoA epimerase in intermediary metabolism.

We have utilized Caenorhabditis elegans to study human methylmalonic acidemia. Using bioinformatics, a full complement of mammalian homologues for the conversion of propionyl-CoA to succinyl-CoA in the genome of C. elegans, including propionyl-CoA carboxylase subunits A and B (pcca-1, pccb-1), methylmalonic acidemia cobalamin A complementation group (mmaa-1), co(I)balamin adenosyltransferase (mmab-1), MMACHC (cblc-1), methylmalonyl-CoA epimerase (mce-1) and methylmalonyl-CoA mutase (mmcm-1) were identified. To verify predictions that the entire intracellular adenosylcobalamin metabolic pathway existed and was functional, the kinetic properties of the C. elegans mmcm-1 were examined. RNA interference against mmcm-1, mmab-1, mmaa-1 in the presence of propionic acid revealed a chemical phenotype of increased methylmalonic acid; deletion mutants of mmcm-1, mmab-1 and mce-1 displayed reduced 1-[(14)C]-propionate incorporation into macromolecules. The mutants produced increased amounts of methylmalonic acid in the culture medium, proving that a functional block in the pathway caused metabolite accumulation. Lentiviral delivery of the C. elegans mmcm-1 into fibroblasts derived from a patient with mut(o) class methylmalonic acidemia could partially restore propionate flux. The C. elegans mce-1 deletion mutant demonstrates for the first time that a lesion at the epimerase step of methylmalonyl-CoA metabolism can functionally impair flux through the methylmalonyl-CoA mutase pathway and suggests that malfunction of MCEE may cause methylmalonic acidemia in humans. The C. elegans system we describe represents the first lower metazoan model organism of mammalian propionate spectrum disorders and demonstrates that mass spectrometry can be employed to study a small molecule chemical phenotype in C. elegans RNAi and deletion mutants.

Pubmed ID: 16843692


  • Chandler RJ
  • Aswani V
  • Tsai MS
  • Falk M
  • Wehrli N
  • Stabler S
  • Allen R
  • Sedensky M
  • Kazazian HH
  • Venditti CP


Molecular genetics and metabolism

Publication Data

August 18, 2006

Associated Grants

  • Agency: NIGMS NIH HHS, Id: GM58881
  • Agency: NIDDK NIH HHS, Id: K08 DK073545
  • Agency: NIDDK NIH HHS, Id: K08 DK073545-01
  • Agency: Intramural NIH HHS, Id: Z01 HG200318-04
  • Agency: Intramural NIH HHS, Id: Z99 HG999999

Mesh Terms

  • Acidosis
  • Acyl Coenzyme A
  • Alkyl and Aryl Transferases
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Cobamides
  • Computational Biology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fibroblasts
  • Genetic Complementation Test
  • Humans
  • Methylmalonic Acid
  • Methylmalonyl-CoA Mutase
  • RNA Interference
  • Racemases and Epimerases
  • Transfection