Important progress in arginine metabolism includes the discovery of widespread expression of two isoforms of arginase, arginase I and II, not only in hepatic cells but also in non-hepatic cells, and the formation of nitric oxide, a widely distributed signal-transducing molecule, from arginine by nitric oxide synthase. Possible physiological roles of arginase may therefore include regulation of nitric oxide synthesis through arginine availability for nitric oxide synthase. In this paper, arginase was investigated in the submandibular, sublingual, and parotid glands of rat, mouse, guinea pig, and rabbit. From their arginase contents, the salivary glands of these species were divided into two groups. Variable levels of arginase activity were detected in the salivary glands of mouse and rat. However, salivary glands of rabbit and guinea pig had almost no arginase activity. The presence of nitric oxide synthase has been reported in all the salivary glands used in this study. Therefore, one of the important findings was the presence of species specificity in the co-localization of arginase and nitric oxide synthase in the salivary glands of the four species. The highest specific activity of arginase was found in mouse parotid gland. In rat, considerable arginase activity was detected in all three glands, at 3.6-7.3% of that in rat liver. In rat submandibular gland, arginase was detected in both cytosolic and particulate fractions. In addition, arginase was detected in isolated acinar cells, but not in duct cells. Experiments on the intracellular distribution and the effects of the arginase inhibitors ornithine and N(omega)-hydroxy-L-arginine (NOHA), suggested the presence of both arginase I and arginase II in rat submandibular gland.
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