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Protein Synthesis in Intestinal Mucosa: the Effect of Route of Administration of Precursor Amino Acids

David H. Alpers

Department of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110

Published January 1972

All cells in the intestinal villus of the rat are capable of synthesizing protein from amino acid precursors (l-leucine). Moreover, polyribosomes from both crypts and villi are equally able to incorporate l-leucine into protein. Unlike other tissues, e.g. liver, there is no diurnal variation of protein synthesis in the intestine of the unfed rat, whether leucine is administered intraluminally or intravenously.

The route of administration of precursor (l-leucine) is important in determining which part of the villus incorporates the label into protein. After intravenous administration, protein from cells near the villus-crypt junction is most heavily labeled, whereas after intraluminal administration protein from cells near the villus tip is most heavily labeled. The pattern of proteins most heavily labeled by radioactive precursor is different in the villus when compared with proteins from the crypt cells. Smaller molecular weight membrane-bound proteins are preferentially labeled in the crypt cells, whereas on the villus the pattern of labeling is more evenly distributed among the various proteins. Moreover, intraluminal leucine is utilized for protein synthesis to a greater extent than that in the blood, when the concentration in both compartments is similar. Thus, intraluminal and intravenous injections of labeled precursor are not equivalent. Both routes should be considered in data for experiments measuring intestinal protein synthesis.

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