We have used control analysis to quantify the distribution of control in the gluconeogenic pathway in liver cells from starved rats. Lactate and pyruvate were used as gluconeogenic substrates. The flux control coefficients of the various enzymes in the gluconeogenic pathway were calculated from the elasticity coefficients of the enzymes towards their substrates and products and the fluxes through the different branches in the pathway. The elasticity coefficients were either calculated from gamma/Keq. ratios (where gamma is the mass-action ratio and Keq. is the equilibrium constant) and enzyme-kinetic data or measured experimentally. It is concluded that the gluconeogenic enzyme pyruvate carboxylase and the glycolytic enzyme pyruvate kinase play a central role in control of gluconeogenesis. If pyruvate kinase is inactive, gluconeogenic flux from lactate is largely controlled by pyruvate carboxylase. The low elasticity coefficient of pyruvate carboxylase towards its product oxaloacetate minimizes control by steps in the gluconeogenic pathway located after pyruvate carboxylase. This situation occurs when maximal gluconeogenic flux is required, i.e. in the presence of glucagon. In the absence of the hormone, when pyruvate kinase is active, control of gluconeogenesis is distributed among many steps, including pyruvate carboxylase, pyruvate kinase, fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase and also steps outside the classic gluconeogenic pathway such as the adenine-nucleotide translocator.

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