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Vitamin B12 claw

The B12 Claw

WHOI scientists recently discovered a previously unknown piece of metabolic machinery that allows algae to grow in the ocean. The cobalamin acquisition protein 1 (CBA1) grabs vitamin B12 out of seawater and brings it into the cell, where the vitamin is used to activate another essential enzyme essential: methionine synthase (MetH). Many algae, as well as humans and other animals require B12, but can't make it and must either acquire it from the environment or eat food that contains B12. No CBA1 means no B12 which means no growth. To discover CBA1, WHOI biogeochemists Erin Bertrand and Mak Saito used an approach now common in boimedical research, but only recently applied to marine science: proteomics. (Illustration by Amy Carcappa-Qubeck, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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