Cellular concentrations of glutamine synthetase in murine organs

H.W. van Straaten*, Y. He, M.M. van Duist, W.T. Labruyere, J.L. Vermeulen, P.J. van Dijk, J.M. Ruijter, W.H. Lamers, T.B.M. Hakvoort

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Glutamine synthetase (GS) is the only enzyme that can synthesize glutamine, but it also functions to detoxify glutamate and ammonia. Organs with high cellular concentrations of GS appear to function primarily to remove glutamate or ammonia, whereas those with a low cellular concentration appear to primarily produce glutamine. To validate this apparent dichotomy and to clarify its regulation, we determined the GS concentrations in 18 organs of the mouse. There was a >100-fold difference in GS mRNA, protein, and enzyme-activity levels among organs, whereas there was only a 20-fold difference in the GS protein:mRNA ratio, suggesting extensive transcriptional and posttranscriptional regulation. In contrast, only small differences in the GS enzyme activity : protein ratio were found, indicating that posttrans lational regulation is of minor importance. The cellular concentration of GS was determined by relating the relative differences in cellular GS concentration, detected using image analysis of immunohistochemically stained tissue sections, to the biochemical data. There was a >1000-fold difference in cellular concentrations of GS between GS-positive cells in different organs, and cellular concentrations were up to 20x higher in subpopulations of cells within organs than in whole organs. GS activity was highest in pericentral hepatocytes (~485 micromol.g–1.min–1), followed in descending order by epithelial cells in the epididymal head, Leydig cells in the testicular interstitium, epithelial cells of the uterine tube, acid-producing parietal cells in the stomach, epithelial cells of the S3 segment of the proximal convoluted tubule of the kidney, astrocytes of the central nervous tissue, and adipose tissue. GS activity in muscle amounted to only 0.4 micromol.g–1.min–1. Our findings confirmed the postulated dichotomy between cellular concentration and GS function
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-231
JournalBiochemistry and Cell Biology-Biochimie et Biologie Cellulaire
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006


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