Glutamine metabolism in uricotelic species: variation in skeletal muscle glutamine synthetase, glutaminase, glutamine levels and rates of protein synthesis Academic Article uri icon


  • High intracellular glutamine levels have been implicated in promoting net protein synthesis and accretion in mammalian skeletal muscle. Little is known regarding glutamine metabolism in uricotelic species but chicken breast muscle exhibits high rates of protein accretion and would be predicted to maintain high glutamine levels. However, chicken breast muscle expresses high glutaminase activity and here we report that chicken breast muscle also expresses low glutamine synthetase activity (0.07+/-0.01 U/g) when compared to leg muscle (0.50+/-0.04 U/g). Free glutamine levels were 1.38+/-0.09 and 9.69+/-0.12 nmol/mg wet weight in breast and leg muscles of fed chickens, respectively. Glutamine levels were also lower in dove breast muscle (4.82+/-0.35 nmol/mg wet weight) when compared to leg muscle (16.2+/-1.0 nmol/mg wet weight) and much lower (1.80+/-0.46 nmol/mg wet weight) in lizard leg muscle. In fed chickens, rates of fractional protein synthesis were higher in leg than in breast muscle, and starvation (48 h) resulted in a decrease in both glutamine content and rate of protein synthesis in leg muscle. Thus, although tissue-specific glutamine metabolism in uricotelic species differs markedly from that in ureotelic animals, differences in rates of skeletal muscle protein synthesis are associated with corresponding differences in intramuscular glutamine content.

author list (cited authors)

  • Watford, M., & Wu, G.

citation count

  • 37
  • 38

publication date

  • January 2005