The rate at which isolated rat liver mitochondria synthesized citrulline with NH4C1 as nitrogen source was markedly dependent on the protein content of the diet. 2. Citrulline synthesis was not rate-limited by substrate concentration, substrate transport or ornithine transcarbamoylase activity under the conditions used. 3. The intramitochondrial content of an activator of carbamoyl phosphate synthase, assumed to be N-acetyl-glutamate, varied markedly with dietary protein content. The variation in the concentration of this activator was sufficient to account for the observed variation in the rates of citrulline synthesis if this synthesis were rate-limited by the activity of carbamoyl phosphate synthase. 4. The rates of urea formation from NH4Cl as nitrogen source in isolated liver cells showed variations in response to diet that closely paralleled the variations in the rates of citrulline synthesis observed in isolated mitochondria. 5. These results are consistent with the postulate that when NH4Cl plus ornithine are present in an excess, the rate of urea synthesis is regulated at the level of carbamoyl phosphate synthase activity.
- © 1976 London: The Biochemical Society