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Am J Physiol. 1993 Jun;264(6 Pt 2):F1038-45.

Arginine synthesis in mouse and rabbit nephron: localization and functional significance.

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Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Unité 90, Hôpital Necker, Paris, France.


In the rat kidney, arginine (Arg) synthesis is restricted to the proximal tubule with a decreasing intensity from its convoluted (PCT) to its straight part (PST). The present study was designed to investigate the pattern of Arg synthesis along the nephron in other mammals, the mouse and rabbit. Microdissected representative nephron segments were incubated with 0.1 mM L-[ureido-14C]citrulline in a sealed chamber. Addition of arginase and urease to the incubation medium led to the hydrolysis of Arg into ornithine, NH3, and 14CO2. The latter was trapped in KOH and counted (results are in fmol tubular length-1). As in the rat, the main site of Arg synthesis in both species was found to be the PCT (mouse, 191; and rabbit, 57). A lower production was observed in rabbit and mouse PST and in rabbit distal segments. Along the PCT (from 1st to 4th mm after the glomerulus), a steep decrease is observed in mouse (595 and 37, respectively) but not in rabbit (57 and 23). The fate of the newly synthesized Arg probably depends on its site of production. Intracellular arginase activity is known to be present in the cortical (C) and medullary (OS) PST, in both mouse and rabbit. In rabbit only, arginase activity is also found in the PCT. We observed that a large part of Arg was further hydrolyzed into urea and ornithine in CPST and OSPST of mouse (66 and 80%, respectively) and rabbit (40 and 70%) but not in rabbit PCT (8%). Thus Arg produced by PCT in both species is probably released in the cortical blood, whereas Arg produced in PST may serve locally to produce urea and ornithine, and the latter could be used for polyamine synthesis.

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