The role of haem synthesis during induction of hepatic cytochrome P-450 haemoproteins was studied in chick embryo in ovo and in chick embryos hepatocytes cultured under chemically defined conditions. 1. Phenobarbitone caused a prompt increase in the activity of 5-aminolaevulinate synthase, the rate-limiting enzyme of haem biosynthesis, and in the concentration of cytochrome P-450. This induction response occurred without measurable initial destruction of the haem moiety of cytochrome P-450. 2. When intracellular haem availability was enhanced by exogenous haem or 5-aminolaevulinate, phenobarbitone-medicated induction of cytochrome P-450 was not affected in spite of the well known repression of 5-aminolaevulinate synthase by haem. These data are consistent with the concept that haem does not regulate the synthesis of cytochrome P-450 haemoproteins. 3. Acetate inhibited haem biosynthesis at the level of 5-aminolaevulinate formation. When intracellular haem availability was diminished by treatment with acetate, phenobarbitone-medicated induction was decreased. 4. This inhibitory effect of acetate on cytochrome P-450 induction was reversed by exogenous haem or its precursor 5-aminolaevulinate. These data suggest that inhibition of haem biosynthesis does not decrease synthesis of apo-cytochrome P-450. Moreover, they indicate that exogenous haem can be incorporated into newly formed aop-cytochrome P-450.

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