We have investigated, by RNase protection assays in rat brain regions and primary cortical astrocyte cultures, the presence of the mRNA species encoding the three mitochondrially located enzymes acetoacetyl-CoA thiolase, mitochondrial 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA synthase (mt. HMG-CoA synthase) and HMG-CoA lyase (HMG-CoA lyase) that together constitute the ketogenic HMG-CoA cycle. As a prerequisite we obtained a full-length cDNA encoding rat HMG-CoA lyase by degenerate oligonucleotide-primed PCR coupled to a modification of PCR-rapid amplification of cDNA ends (PCR-RACE). We report here: (1) the nucleotide sequence of rat mt. HMG-CoA lyase, (2) detection of the mRNA species encoding all three HMG-CoA cycle enzymes in all regions of rat brain during suckling, (3) approximately twice the abundance of mt. HMG-CoA synthase mRNA in cerebellum than in cortex in 11-day-old suckling rat pups, (4) significantly lower abundances of mt. HMG-CoA synthase mRNA in brain regions derived from rats weaned to a high-carbohydrate/low-fat diet compared with the corresponding regions derived from the suckling rat, and (5) the presence of mt. HMG-CoA synthase mRNA in primary cultures of neonatal cortical astrocytes at an abundance similar to that found in liver of weaned animals. These results provide preliminary evidence that certain neural cell types possess ketogenic potential and might thus have a direct role in the provision of fatty acid-derived ketone bodies during the suckling period.
- The Biochemical Society, London © 1998