Glutamine Transaminase K and ω-Amidase Activities in Primary Cultures of Astrocytes and Neurons and in Embryonic Chick Forebrain: Marked Induction of Brain Glutamine Transaminase K at Time of Hatching


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. A. J. L. Cooper, at Department of Biochemistry, Cornell University Medical College, 1300 York Avenue, New York, NY 10021, U.S.A.


Abstract: Glutamine transaminase K and ω-amidase activities are present in the chick brain and in the brains of adult mice, rats, and humans. However, the activity of gluta-mine transaminase K in adult mouse brain is relatively low. In the chick embryo, cerebral glutamine transaminase K activity is low between embryonic days 5 and 17, but by day 23 (day of hatching) activity rises dramatically (< 15-fold). Cerebral ω-amidase activity is relatively high at embryonic day 5 but lower between days 5 and 17; at embryonic day 23 the activity rises to a maximum. Both glutamine transaminase K and ω-amidase are present in cultured chick, rat, and mouse astrocytes and neurons. For each species, the activity of glutamine transaminase K is higher in the astrocytes than in the neurons. The activity of ω-amidase is about the same in the cultured chick astrocytes and neurons but significantly higher in rat astrocytes than in rat neurons. The data suggest that the rise in brain glutamine transaminase K activity in the chick embryo at hatching correlates with maturation of astrocytes. Glutamine transaminase K may be involved in glutamine cycling in astrocytes. Glutamine transaminase K appears to be a major cysteine S-conjugate β-lyase of the brain and may play a role in the neurotoxicity associated with exposure to dichloroacetylene and perhaps to other toxins.