Vitamin B12 is involved in metabolic functions in all organisms and is therefore an essential nutrient. However, it is one of the most essential biochemicals in the world and its synthesis is extraordinarily complex. Since the chemical production of Vitamin B12 requires 70 synthesis steps, it is far too technically challenging and expensive. Therefore, its production is facilitated by genetically engineered microorganisms. These are able to produce Vitamin B12 in industrial amounts and achieve a high product quality. However, the produced Vitamin B12 is not exported out of the production organism and must be harvested by cell lysis. This prevents a cost efficient production. To date, a natural cellular Vitamin B12 exporter is unknown. Vitamin B12 is not only essential for ourselves but also for the industry. It is for example a compound in vitamin pills as well as in cleaning solutions for contact lenses and needed for biotechnical production of various organic substances.
Structure of cobalamin:
The “Red Gold”:
The pure form of cyanocobalamine: Due to it’s deep red color, we also call it the “red gold”.
Vitamin B12 in Foods:
Vitamin B12 can only be synthesized by microorganisms. Therefore, humans need to obtain it by eating animal products like meat and dairy. In these products vitamin B12, produced by bacteria colonizing the gastrointestinal tract, is stored.