Changes in the tissue content of phosphoribosyl pyrophosphate (PPRibP), glucose 6-phosphate, ribose 5-phosphate (Rib5P), RNA and DNA, of the activity of PPRibP synthetase (EC 2.7.6.1) and the conversion of [1-14C]- and [6-14C]-glucose into 14CO2 were measured at mid-lactation in the normal and diabetic rat and in pregnancy, lactation and mammary involution in the normal rat. The PPRibP, glucose 6-phosphate and Rib5P contents increase during pregnancy and early lactation to reach a plateau value at mid-lactation, before falling sharply during weaning. The PPRibP content, PPRibP synthetase activity and flux of glucose through the oxidative pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) all change in parallel during the lactation cycle. Similarly, after 3 and 5 days duration of streptozotocin-induced diabetes, ending on day 10 of lactation, there were parallel declines in PPRibP content, PPRibP synthetase and PPP activity. The effect of streptozotocin was prevented by pretreatment with nicotinamide and partially reversed by insulin administration. Addition of insulin to lactating rat mammary-gland slices incubated in vitro significantly raised the PPRibP content (+47%) and the activity of the PPP (+40%); phenazine methosulphate, which gives a 2-fold increase in PPP activity, raised the PPRibP content of lactating mammary gland slices by approx. 3-fold. It is concluded that Rib5P, generated in the oxidative segment of the PPP, is an important determinant of PPRibP synthesis in the lactating rat mammary gland and that insulin plays a central role in the regulation of the bioavailability of this precursor of nucleotide and nucleic acid synthesis.

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