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Endocrinology. 2005 Feb;146(2):950-9. Epub 2004 Nov 11.

Testosterone down-regulates ornithine aminotransferase gene and up-regulates arginase II and ornithine decarboxylase genes for polyamines synthesis in the murine kidney.

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Université Claude Bernard, Faculté de Médecine Lyon RTH Laennec, U 499 Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, 7, rue G. Paradin, 69372 Lyon Cedex 08, France.


The enzymes ornithine aminotransferase (OAT) and ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) share L-ornithine as a common substrate and arginase II produces this amino acid. In the murine kidney, testosterone induced ODC gene expression and polyamine production, but it is unknown how OAT gene is expressed under androgen treatment. These experiments were designed to study the influence of testosterone on the renal expression of OAT gene. Pharmacological and physiological doses of testosterone were injected into female and castrated male mice. Total RNA and soluble proteins extracted from whole kidneys were analyzed by Northern and Western blots, respectively. The results clearly indicate that pharmacological doses of testosterone simultaneously down-regulated the level of OAT protein and up-regulated the expression of arginase II and ODC genes. Variations of the levels of OAT protein and arginase II mRNA and protein were strongly correlated with testosteronemia. Orchidectomy increased the renal level of OAT protein and decreased that of ODC and arginase II. These effects were reversed by injecting a physiological dose of testosterone into castrated male mice. In conclusion, OAT and ODC genes are inversely regulated by testosterone in the mouse kidney. Consequently, in kidneys of testosterone-treated mice, L-arginine-derived ornithine produced by arginase II might be preferentially used by ODC for putrescine production rather than by OAT. This metabolic fate of L-ornithine was facilitated by decreasing OAT gene expression. In contrast, in female and castrated male mice devoided of testosterone, OAT gene is highly expressed and L-ornithine is converted into L-glutamate.

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