Lobular patterns of expression and enzyme activities of glutamine synthase, carbamoylphosphate synthase and glutamate dehydrogenase during postnatal development of the porcine liver. Academic Article uri icon


  • Carbamoylphosphate synthase and glutamine synthase show a complementary distribution in the liver lobule of the rat. In the human liver lobule, which is approximately 2-fold larger than that of the rat, an intermediate, 'empty' zone is present between the periportal carbamoylphosphate synthase-positive and the pericentral glutamine synthase-positive zone. To investigate whether these differences in gene expression can be attributed to the size of the liver lobule, we investigated the patterns of expression of carbamoylphosphate synthase, glutamine synthase and glutamate dehydrogenase during postnatal development of the pig, a species in which the total number of lobules does not increase after birth. We demonstrate that lobular size increases 3-fold between 1 week and 8 months after birth. In the same developmental period the number of hepatocytes on the porto-central axis increases 2-fold, resulting in a 3-fold increase in cellular volume. However, the lobular patterns of expression of carbamoylphosphate synthase, glutamate dehydrogenase and glutamine synthase do not change anymore after 1 month, i.e., when lobular diameter is comparable to that in rat liver, showing that lobular size is not a major determinant of the heterogeneous patterns of expression of these enzymes. The adult patterns of expression of glutamine synthase, glutamate dehydrogenase and, in particular carbamoylphosphate synthase in the porcine liver resemble those of man. Changes in the enzyme activities of glutamate dehydrogenase and carbamoylphosphate synthase are not related to the lobular size. However, the 70% decrease of GS activity in the 8-month-old pigs corresponds with the gradual 2-3-fold decrease in the size of the GS-positive compartment during postnatal development. During adulthood GS activity increases again to values observed 1 week after birth demonstrating a 2-fold increase in cellular glutamine synthase content. The present data show that the pig is an excellent model to study the regulation and functional implication of zonation of gene expression in the human liver.

published proceedings

  • Biochim Biophys Acta

author list (cited authors)

  • Wagenaar, G. T., Geerts, W. J., Chamuleau, R. A., Deutz, N. E., & Lamers, W. H.

complete list of authors

  • Wagenaar, GT||Geerts, WJ||Chamuleau, RA||Deutz, NE||Lamers, WH

publication date

  • January 1, 1994 11:11 AM