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Am J Physiol. 1989 Oct;257(4 Pt 1):G616-23.

New insights into lactase and glycosylceramidase activities of rat lactase-phlorizin hydrolase.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Floating Hospital, New England Medical Center, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston 02111.


Lactase-phlorizin hydrolase, a small intestinal disaccharidase, has been considered mainly an enzyme important only for the hydrolysis of lactose. After weaning in most mammals lactase-specific activity falls markedly, and, functionally, adult mammals are considered to be lactase deficient. However, the persistence of low levels of lactase activity in adulthood has never been explained. In addition, it has been suggested that lactase-phlorizin hydrolase is associated with glycosylceramidase activity when the enzyme is prepared by column chromatography, but it is unclear whether this represents copurified activities or two catalytic sites on one peptide. The developmental patterns of lactase-phlorizin hydrolase and other disaccharidases were investigated in homogenates of total rat small intestine; lactase and several glycosylceramidases were measured in immunoprecipitates from these homogenates using a monoclonal antibody. The developmental pattern of total lactase activity showed a steady 2.3-fold increase to adult levels (specific activity decreased eightfold), whereas total phlorizin-hydrolase activity increased 10.7-fold (specific activity decreased threefold). As expected, levels of both total and specific sucrase and maltase activities increased during development. In lactating rats total lactase activity showed a significant increase compared with adult males. The developmental pattern of the enzyme activities for the glycolipid substrates was similar to that found for lactase, and the immunoprecipitated enzyme showed a 40- to 55-fold higher affinity for the glycolipids than for lactose. Galactosyl- and lactosylceramide inhibited lactose hydrolysis by 38%, without a competitive pattern, suggesting two different active sites for lactose and glycolipid hydrolysis, respectively.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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