The mechanism of the vitamin K-dependent post-translational carboxylation of the gamma-carbon atom of glutamic acid residues in proteins remains obscure. Experiments were performed in vivo and in vitro in an attempt to establish a role for biotin in the transfer of the carboxyl group. Weanling male rats were fed on a biotin-deficient diet until severe biotin deficiency was induced. Their degree of biotin deficiency was documented by assaying for liver acetyl-CoA carboxylase activity, which was about 15% of normal. However, one-stage and two-stage prothrombin times measured on the plasmas were normal. In addition, the liver microsomal fraction did not contain any more prothrombin precursor than did that of normal rat liver. Experiments were done in vitro in which vitamin K-dependent fixing of 14CO2 was measured in the liver microsomal fraction from vitamin K-deficient male rats in the presence or absence of avidin. No evidence for an avidin-sensitive critical biotin-containing site was obtained. Thus neither series of experiments suggests a role for biotin; the data are compatible with carboxyl transfer occurring either through a carboxylated vitamin K intermediate; or via a yet to be identified intermediate, or perhaps via CO2 itself.

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