For an insight regarding the control of PtdEtn (phosphatidylethanolamine) synthesis via the CDPethanolamine pathway, rat liver cDNA encoding ECT (CTP:phosphoethanolamine cytidylyltransferase) was transiently or stably transfected in Chinese-hamster ovary cells and a rat liver-derived cell line (McA-RH7777), resulting in a maximum of 26- and 4-fold increase in specific activity of ECT respectively. However, no effect of ECT overexpression on the rate of [3H]ethanolamine incorporation into PtdEtn was detected in both cell lines. This was explored further in cells overexpressing four times ECT activity (McA-ECT1). The rate of PtdEtn breakdown and PtdEtn mass were not changed in McA-ECT1 cells in comparison with control-transfected cells. Instead, an accumulation of CDPethanolamine (label and mass) was observed, suggesting that in McA-ECT1 cells the ethanolaminephosphotransferase-catalysed reaction became rate-limiting. However, overexpression of the human choline/ethanolaminephosphotransferase in McA-ECT1 and control-transfected cells had no effect on PtdEtn synthesis. To investigate whether the availability of DAG (diacylglycerol) limited PtdEtn synthesis in these cells, intracellular DAG levels were increased using PMA or phospholipase C. Exposure of cells to PMA or phospholipase C stimulated PtdEtn synthesis and this effect was much more pronounced in McA-ECT1 than in control-transfected cells. In line with this, the DAG produced after PMA exposure was consumed more rapidly in McA-ECT1 cells and the CDPethanolamine level decreased accordingly. In conclusion, our results suggest that the supply of CDPethanolamine, via the expression level of ECT, is an important factor governing the rate of PtdEtn biosynthesis in mammalian cells, under the condition that the amount of DAG is not limiting.

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