1. The apparent Michaelis constants of the glutamate dehydrogenase (EC 1.4.1.3), the glutamate-oxaloacetate transaminase (EC 2.6.1.1) and the glutaminase (EC 3.5.1.2) of rat brain mitochondria derived from non-synaptic (M) and synaptic (SM2) sources were studied. 2. The kinetics of oxygen uptake of both populations of mitochondria in the presence of a fixed concentration of malate and various concentrations of glutamate or glutamine were investigated. 3. In both mitochondrial populations, glutamate-supported respiration in the presence of 2.5 mM-malate appears to be biphasic, one system (B) having an apparent Km for glutamate of 0.25 +/- 0.04 mM (n=7) and the other (A) of 1.64 +/- 0.5 mM (n=7) [when corrected for low-Km process, Km=2.4 +/- 0.75 mM (n=7)]. Aspartate production in these experiments followed kinetics of a single process with an apparent Km for glutamate of 1.8-2 mM, approximating to the high-Km process. 4. Oxygen-uptake measurement with both mitochondrial populations in the presence of malate and various glutamate concentrations in which amino-oxyacetate was present showed kinetics approximating only to the low-Km process (apparent Km for glutamate approximately 0.2 mM). Similar experiments in the presence of glutamate alone showed kinetics approximating only to the high-Km process (apparent Km for glutamate approximately 1-1.3 mM). 5. Oxygen uptake supported by glutamine (0-3 mM) and malate (2.5 mM) by the free (M) mitochondrial population, however, showed single-phase kinetics with an apparent Km for glutamine of 0.28 mM. 6. Aspartate and 2-oxoglutarate accumulation was measured in ‘free’ nonsynaptic (M) brain mitochondria oxidizing various concentrations of glutamate at a fixed malate concentration. Over a 30-fold increase in glutamate concentration, the flux through the glutamate-oxaloacetate transaminase increased 7–8-fold, whereas the flux through 2-oxoglutarate dehydrogenase increased about 2.5-fold. 7. The biphasic kinetics of glutamate-supported respiration by brain mitochondria in the presence of malate are interpreted as reflecting this change in the relative fluxes through transamination and 2-oxoglutarate metabolism.

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