The bilrubin-IXalpha conjugates in bile and the activities of bilirubin-IX alphax–UDP-glycosyltransferases in liver and kidney were determined for ten species of mammals and for the chicken. 1. In the mammalian species, bilirubin-IX alpha glucuronide was the predominant bile pigment. Excretion of neutral glycosides was unimportant, except in the cat, the mouse, the rabbit and the dog, where glucose and xylose represented 12–41% of total conjugating groups bound to bilirubin-IX alpha. In chicken bile, glucoside and glucuronide conjugates were of equal importance. They probably represent only a small fraction of the total bile pigment. 2. The transferase activities in liver showed pronounced species variation. This was also apparent with regard to activation by digitonin, pH optimum and relative activities of transferases acting on either UDP-glucuronic acid or neutral UDP-sugars. 3. Man, the dog, the cat and the rat excrete bilirubin-IX alpha largely as diconjugated derivatives. In general, diconjugated bilirubin-IX alpha could also be synthesized in vitro with liver homogenate, bilirubin-IX alpha and UDP-sugar. In contrast, for the other species examined, bilirubin pigments consisted predominantly of monoconjugated bilirubin-IX alpha. Synthesis in vitro with UDP-glucuronic acid, UDP-glucose or UDP-xylose as the sugar donor led exclusively to the formation of monoconjugated bilirubin-IX alpha. 4. The transferase activities in the kidney were restricted to the cortex and were important only for the rat and the dog. No activity at all could be detected for several species, including man. 5. Comparison of the transferase activities in liver with reported values of the maximal rate of excretion in bile suggests a close linkage between conjugation and biliary secretion of bilirubin-IX alpha.
- © 1977 London: The Biochemical Society