To test the significance of the purine nucleotide cycle in renal ammoniagenesis, studies were conducted with rat kidney cortical slices using glutamate or glutamine labelled in the alpha-amino group with 15N. Glucose production by normal kidney slices with 2 mM-glutamine was equal to that with 3 mM-glutamate. With L-[15N]glutamate as sole substrate, one-third of the total ammonia produced by kidney slices was labelled, indicating significant deamination of glutamate or other amino acids from the cellular pool. Ammonia produced from the amino group of L-[alpha-15N]glutamine was 4-fold higher than from glutamate at similar glucose production rates. Glucose and ammonia formation from glutamine by kidney slices obtained from rats with chronic metabolic acidosis was found to be 70% higher than by normal kidney slices. The contribution of the amino group of glutamine to total ammonia production was similar in both types of kidneys. No 15N was found in the amino group of adenine nucleotides after incubation of kidney slices from normal or chronically acidotic rats with labelled glutamine. Addition of Pi, a strong inhibitor of AMP deaminase, had no effect on ammonia formation from glutamine. Likewise, fructose, which may induce a decrease in endogenous Pi, had no effect on ammonia formation. The data obtained suggest that the contribution of the purine nucleotide cycle to ammonia formation from glutamine in rat renal tissue is insignificant.

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