The essential amino acid lysine acts as precursor of glutamate in the mammalian central nervous system

FEBS Lett. 2001 Jan 12;488(1-2):34-8. doi: 10.1016/s0014-5793(00)02401-7.


Lysine has long been recognized as an essential amino acid for humans and the lack or low supply of this compound in the diet may lead to mental and physical handicaps. Since lysine is severely restricted in cereals, the most important staple food in the world, the understanding of its biological roles must be a major concern. Here we show that lysine is an important precursor for de novo synthesis of glutamate, the most significant excitatory neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system. We also show that the synthesis of glutamate from lysine, which is carried out by the saccharopine pathway, is likely to take place in neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / enzymology
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Cerebellum / cytology
  • Cerebellum / enzymology
  • Cerebellum / metabolism
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Cerebral Cortex / enzymology
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism*
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Lysine / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Neurons / enzymology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Saccharopine Dehydrogenases / genetics
  • Saccharopine Dehydrogenases / metabolism


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Saccharopine Dehydrogenases
  • saccharopine dehydrogenase (NADP+, lysine-forming)
  • Lysine