The effect of glutamine on the rates of protein synthesis and degradation was studied in isolated chick extensor digitorum communis muscles incubated in the presence of plasma concentrations of amino acids. Addition of 0.5-15 mM-glutamine increases (P less than 0.01) intracellular glutamine concentrations by 31-670%. There is a positive relationship (r = 0.975, P less than 0.01) between intracellular glutamine concentration and the rate of muscle protein synthesis measured by the incorporation of [3H]phenylalanine. The stimulating effect of 15 mM-glutamine on protein synthesis was decreased from 58 to 19% in muscles incubated in the absence of tyrosine. The rates of protein degradation, estimated from [3H]phenylalanine release from muscle proteins prelabelled in vivo, decreased (P less than 0.05) by 15-30% in the presence of 4-15 mM-glutamine when compared with muscles incubated in the presence of physiological concentrations of glutamine (0.5-1 mM). Glutamine concentrations ranging from 2 to 15 mM appear to have an overall anabolic effect on chick skeletal muscles incubated in vitro.

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