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EMBO J. 1983;2(4):567-70.

Heterogeneous distribution of glutamine synthetase among rat liver parenchymal cells in situ and in primary culture.


The distribution of glutamine synthetase [L-glutamate: ammonia ligase (ADP-forming), EC] among rat liver parenchymal cells in situ and in primary culture was investigated by indirect immunofluorescence using a specific antiserum. In intact liver, the enzyme was found to be localized exclusively within a very small population of the parenchymal cells surrounding the terminal hepatic venules. Other parts of the parenchyma including non-parenchymal cell types did not stain for this enzyme. Heterogeneity was preserved during isolation of liver parenchymal cells and persisted in cultured cells for at least 3 days. Despite alterations in enzyme activity due to the adaptation of the cells to the culture conditions or due to the hormonal stimulation of the enzyme activity, no change in the relative number of cells expressing this enzyme could be detected. This rather peculiar localization of glutamine synthetase demonstrates an interesting aspect of liver zonation and might have important implications for liver glutamine and, more generally, nitrogen metabolism. Furthermore, it raises the question of whether there might be a phenotypic difference among liver parenchymal cells.

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