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11.1A: Folate Functions

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  • The major function of folate is that it participates in 1-carbon metabolism. As described earlier, this is the transfer of 1-carbon units from 1 compound to another. The cofactor form of folate is tetrahydrofolate (THF). As is shown in the Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\), in order for THF to be formed, a methyl group is transferred to cobalamin (vitamin B12) from 5-methyl THF (THF plus a methyl group), forming methyl-cobalamin. You can see this on the left side of the figure below.

    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): One-carbon metabolism

    There are 2 major cofactor functions of THF1:

    DNA Synthesis

    THF is required for the synthesis of DNA bases (purines and pyrimidines).1 N10-formyl-THF (a form of THF) is needed in two reactions (3 and 9) in purine synthesis.

    Amino Acid Metabolism

    THF is a cofactor for enzymes that metabolize histidine, serine, glycine, and methionine1. THF is also a cofactor for serine hydroxymethyltransferase, the enzyme that converts serine to glycine.

    References & Links

    1. Gropper SS, Smith JL, Groff JL. (2008) Advanced nutrition and human metabolism. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.