Evidence from several fields of investigation lead to the hypothesis that the sulfur atom is involved in vitamin B12
-dependent methyl group transfer. To compile the evidence, it is necessary to briefly review the following fields: methylation, the new field of sulfane sulfur/hydrogen sulfide (S°/H2
S), hydrosulfide derivatives of cobalamins, autoxidation of hydrosulfide radical, radical S-adenosylmethionine methyl transfer (RSMT), and methionine synthase (MS). Then, new reaction mechanisms for B12
-dependent methyl group transfer are proposed; the mechanisms are facile and overcome difficulties that existed in previously-accepted mechanisms. Finally, the theory is applied to the effect of S°/H2
S in nerve tissue involving the “hypomethylation theory” that was proposed 50 years ago to explain the neuropathology resulting from deficiency of vitamin B12
or folic acid. The conclusions are consistent with emerging evidence that sulfane sulfur/hydrogen sulfide may be beneficial in treating Alzheimer’s disease.
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