Synthesis of citrulline from glutamine in pig enterocytes. Academic Article uri icon


  • The synthesis of citrulline from glutamine was quantified in enterocytes from pre-weaning (14-21 days old) and post-weaning (29-58 days old) pigs. The cells were incubated at 37 degrees C for 30 min in Krebs-Henseleit bicarbonate buffer (pH 7.4) containing 0, 0.5, 2 and 5 mM glutamine. Oxygen consumption was linear during the 30 min incubation period. The rates of citrulline synthesis were low or negligible in enterocytes from 14-21-day-old pigs, but increased 10-20-fold in the cells from 29-58-day-old pigs. This marked elevation of citrulline synthesis coincided with an increase in the activity of pyrroline-5-carboxylate synthase with the animal's post-weaning growth. In contrast, decreases in the activities of phosphate-dependent glutaminase, ornithine aminotransferase, ornithine carbamoyltransferase and carbamoyl-phosphate synthase were observed as the age of the pigs increased. The concentrations of carbamoyl phosphate in enterocytes from pre-weaning pigs were higher than, or similar to, those in the cells from post-weaning pigs. It is possible that the low rate of citrulline synthesis from glutamine in enterocytes from pre-weaning pigs was due to a limited availability of ornithine, rather than that of carbamoyl phosphate. We suggest that this limited availability of ornithine in pre-weaning-pig enterocytes results from (i) the low rate of pyrroline-5-carboxylate synthesis from glutamate, due to the low activity of pyrroline-5-carboxylate synthase, and (ii) the competitive conversion of pyrroline-5-carboxylate into proline. Our present findings on the developmental aspect of citrulline synthesis in pig enterocytes may offer a biochemical mechanism for the previous observations that arginine is a nutritionally essential amino acid for suckling piglets, but not for adult pigs.

published proceedings

  • Biochem J

author list (cited authors)

  • Wu, G., Knabe, D. A., & Flynn, N. E.

citation count

  • 153

complete list of authors

  • Wu, G||Knabe, DA||Flynn, NE

publication date

  • April 1994