Evidence is presented for the operation of an ethanolamine-phosphatidylethanolamine (PtdEtn) cycle in Chinese hamster ovary cells. PtdEtn was labelled with [3H]ethanolamine and radioactivity was chased by incubation with 1 mM unlabelled ethanolamine. Radioactivity in [3H]PtdEtn gradually declined over a 23 h time period. In contrast, when the cells were incubated in medium lacking unlabelled ethanolamine, radioactivity in PtdEtn remained constant for at least 23 h. These observations suggest that the ethanolamine moiety is continuously released from PtdEtn and recycled back into PtdEtn. In cells incubated without unlabelled ethanolamine, labelled ethanolamine released from PtdEtn is re-incorporated into PtdEtn without significant dilution. In contrast, in cells incubated with unlabelled ethanolamine the specific radioactivity of the intracellular ethanolamine pool decreases as a result of dilution by the exogenous ethanolamine, hence radioactivity in PtdEtn gradually declines. Similar results were obtained for confluent and non-confluent cells. Our data also demonstrate that when PtdEtn is derived from phosphatidylserine decarboxylation, the ethanolamine cycle operates only in actively dividing, and not in confluent, cells, implying that PtdEtn derived from different biosynthetic origins [i.e. from decarboxylation of phosphatidylserine or from ethanolamine (most likely via the CDP-ethanolamine pathway)] is metabolized differently.
- © 1995 The Biochemical Society, London