Vitamin K Biochemistry

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Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin synthesized by intestinal bacteria. Vitamin K is activated by the enzyme epoxide reductase to its reduced form, which acts as a cofactor for gamma-carboxylation of glutamic acid residues on blood clotting proteins. Therefore, Vitamin K plays an important role in coagulation (formation of blood clots), as there are a number of such vitamin K-dependent coagulation factors: including factors II, VII, IX, X, as well as protein C and S.

Key Points

  • Vitamin K
    • Fat-soluble compounds synthesized by intestinal flora
      • Includes phytomenadione, phylloquinone, phytonadione
      • Vitamin K Deficiency typically caused by fat malabsorption
    • Activated by epoxide reductase to reduced form
      • Active Vitamin K is a cofactor for the y-carboxylation of glutamic acid residues needed to synthesize blood clotting factors
        • Vitamin K-dependent proteins include Factors II, VII, IX, X, proteins C and S
      • Warfarin (Coumadin) inhibits epoxide reductase, blocking vitamin K-mediated gamma-carboxylation

Find Vitamin K Biochemistry and other Vitamins among Pixorize's visual mnemonics for the USMLE Step 1 and NBME shelf exams.