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J Biol Chem. 1998 Oct 16;273(42):27505-10.

Hypoglycemia-associated hyperammonemia caused by impaired expression of ornithine cycle enzyme genes in C/EBPalpha knockout mice.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, Kumamoto University School of Medicine, Kumamoto 862-0976, Japan.


Ammonia produced by amino acid metabolism is detoxified through conversion into urea by the ornithine cycle in the liver, whereas carbon skeletons of amino acids are converted to glucose by gluconeogenic enzymes. Promoter and enhancer sequences of several genes for ornithine cycle enzymes interact with members of the CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein (C/EBP) transcription factor family. Disruption of the C/EBPalpha gene in mice causes hypoglycemia associated with the impaired expression of gluconeogenic enzymes. Here we examined the expression of ornithine cycle enzyme genes in the livers of C/EBPalpha-deficient mice. mRNA levels for the first, third, fourth, and fifth enzymes of five enzymes in the cycle were decreased in C/EBPalpha-deficient mice. Protein levels for the first, second, fourth, and fifth enzymes were also decreased. In situ hybridization analysis revealed that the enzyme mRNAs were distributed normally in the periportal region but were disordered in C/EBPalpha-deficient mice with relatively higher mRNA levels in the midlobular region. Blood ammonia concentrations in the mutant mice were severalfold higher than in wild-type mice. Thus, C/EBPalpha is crucial for ammonia detoxification by ornithine cycle enzymes and for coordination of gluconeogenesis and urea synthesis.

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