Choline accumulation and phosphatidylcholine biosynthesis were investigated in the choline-requiring anaerobic protozoon Entodinium caudatum by incubating whole cells or subcellular fractions with [14C] choline, phosphoryl [14C] choline and CDP-[14C] choline. 2. All membrane fractions contained choline kinase (EC and CDP-choline-1,2-diacylglycerol cholinephosphotransferase (EC, although the specific activities were less in the cell-envelope fraction. Choline phosphate cytidylyltransferase (EC was limited to the supernatant, and this enzyme was rate-limiting for phosphatidylcholine synthesis in the whole cell. 3. Synthesis of phosphatidylcholine from free choline by membranes was only possible in the presence of supernatant. Such reconstituted systems required ATP (2.5 mM), CTP (1 mM) and Mg2+ (5 mM) for maximum synthesis of the phospholipid. CTP and Mg2+ were absolute requirements. 4. Hemicholinium-3 prevented choline uptake by the cells and was strongly inhibitory towards choline kinase; the other enzymes involved in phosphatidylcholine synthesis were minimally affected. 5. Ca2+ ions (0.5 mM) substantially inhibited CDP-choline-1,2-diacylglycerol cholinephosphotransferase in the presence of 15 mM-Mg2+, but choline phosphate cytidylyltransferase and choline kinase were less affected. 6. No free choline could be detected intact cells even after short (10-180s) incubations or at temperatures down to 10° C. The [14C] choline entering was mainly present as phosphorylcholine and to a lesser extent as phosphatidylcholine. 7. It is suggested that choline kinase effectively traps any choline within the cell, thus ensuring a supply of the base for future growth. At low choline concentrations the activity of choline kinase is rate-limiting for choline uptake, and the enzyme might possibly play an active role in the transport phenomenon. Thus the choline uptake by intact cells and choline kinase have similar Km values and show similar responses to temperature and hemicholinium-3.

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