Compartmentation and kinetics of urea cycle enzymes in porcine enterocytes Academic Article uri icon


  • We have recently reported the synthesis of urea from ammonia, glutamine and arginine in enterocytes of postweaning pigs. The present study was conducted to determine the compartmentation and kinetics of urea cycle enzymes in these cells. Carbamoyl phosphate synthase I (CPS I) and ornithine carbamoyltransferase (OCT) were located exclusively in mitochondria, whereas argininosuccinate synthase (ASS) and argininosuccinate lyase (ASL) were found in the cytosol. Arginase isozymes were present in both the cytosol and mitochondria of enterocytes, and differed in their sensitivity to heat inactivation. Except for OCT, Vmax values of urea cycle enzymes were much lower in enterocytes than in the liver of pigs, and vice versa for their Km values. Because of a low rate of ureagenesis in enterocytes compared with the liver, intestinal urea cycle enzymes may function primarily to synthesize citrulline. The co-localization of CPS I and OCT and a high activity of OCT in enterocyte mitochondria favors the intestinal synthesis of citrulline from ammonia, HCO3- and ornithine. Low activities of cytosolic ASS and ASL minimize the conversion of citrulline into arginine and therefore, the recycling of citrulline into ornithine via arginase in postweaning-pig enterocytes. These kinetic properties of intestinal urea cycle enzymes maximize the net synthesis of citrulline from glutamine and explain the release of large amounts of citrulline by the pig small intestine. The two compartmentally separated arginase isozymes in enterocytes may play an important role in regulating the intestinal metabolism of proline, nitric oxide and polyamines.

author list (cited authors)

  • Davis, P. K., & Wu, G.

citation count

  • 41
  • 43

publication date

  • March 1998