Regulation of messenger ribonucleic acid levels for five urea cycle enzymes in cultured rat hepatocytes. Requirements for cyclic adenosine monophosphate, glucocorticoids, and ongoing protein synthesis

Mol Endocrinol. 1988 May;2(5):444-51. doi: 10.1210/mend-2-5-444.


In adult rat liver, amounts of the urea cycle enzymes are regulated by diet, glucocorticoids, and cAMP. Rat hepatocytes cultured in chemically defined medium were used to precisely define the roles of glucocorticoids and cAMP in regulation of these enzymes at the pretranslational level. With the exception of ornithine transcarbamylase mRNA, cultured rat hepatocytes retain the capacity to express mRNAs for the urea cycle enzymes at the same level observed for liver of intact rats. In the absence of added hormones, mRNAs for argininosuccinate synthetase and argininosuccinate lyase remained at or above normal in vivo levels, while mRNAs for the other three enzymes declined to very low levels. Messenger RNAs for carbamyl phosphate synthetase I, argininosuccinate synthetase, argininosuccinate lyase, and arginase increased in response to either dexamethasone or 8-(4-chlorophenylthio) cAMP (CPT-cAMP). Half-maximal responses occurred at 2-3 nM dexamethasone and at 2-7 microM CPT-cAMP. Cycloheximide abolished the response to dexamethasone but not to CPT-cAMP, suggesting that dexamethasone induced expression of an intermediate gene product required for induction of these mRNAs. The effects of a combination of both hormones were additive for argininosuccinate lyase mRNA and synergistic for carbamyl phosphate synthetase I, argininosuccinate synthetase, and arginase mRNAs. Messenger RNA for ornithine transcarbamylase showed little or no response to any condition tested. Depending on the particular mRNA and hormonal condition tested, increases in mRNA levels ranged from 1.4- to 70-fold above control values.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cyclic AMP / analogs & derivatives
  • Cyclic AMP / pharmacology
  • Cyclic AMP / physiology*
  • Cycloheximide / pharmacology
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Glucocorticoids / physiology*
  • Liver / cytology
  • Liver / enzymology*
  • Male
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Thionucleotides / pharmacology
  • Urea / metabolism*


  • Glucocorticoids
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Thionucleotides
  • 8-((4-chlorophenyl)thio)cyclic-3',5'-AMP
  • Dexamethasone
  • Urea
  • Cycloheximide
  • Cyclic AMP