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J Biol Chem. 1996 Feb 16;271(7):3500-6.

Dietary calorie restriction in mice induces carbamyl phosphate synthetase I gene transcription tissue specifically.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of California, Riverside, California 92521, USA.


Dietary calorie restriction (CR) delays age-related physiologic changes, increases maximum life span, and reduces cancer incidence. Here, we present the novel finding that chronic reduction of dietary calories by 50% without changing the intake of dietary protein induced the activity of mouse hepatic carbamyl phosphate synthetase I (CpsI) 5-fold. In liver, CpsI protein, mRNA, and gene transcription were each stimulated by approximately 3-fold. Thus, CR increased both the rate of gene transcription and the specific activity of the enzyme. Short-term feeding studies demonstrated that higher cpsI expression was due to CR and not consumption of more dietary protein. Intestinal CpsI activity was stimulated 2-fold, while its mRNA level did not change, suggesting enzyme activity or translation efficiency was stimulated. CpsI catalyzes the conversion of metabolic ammonia to carbamyl phosphate, the rate-limiting step in urea biosynthesis. cpsI induction suggests there is a shift in the metabolism of calorie-restricted animals toward protein catabolism. CpsI induction likely facilitates metabolic detoxification of ammonia, a strong neurotoxin. Enhanced protein turnover and metabolic detoxification may extend life span. Physiologic similarities between calorie-restricted and hibernating animals suggest the effects of CR may be part of a spectrum of adaptive responses that include hibernation.

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