Hormonal regulation of L-serine dehydratase [L-serine hydro-lyase (deaminating), EC] was studied in primary cultures of adult-rat hepatocytes. The hepatocytes were isolated by collagenase perfusion and maintained in culture on collagen-gel/nylon-mesh substrata. L-Serine dehydratase activity was measured with [14C]threonine as substrate. The enzyme activity in hepatocytes of normal adult rats was low and declined rapidly in culture in L-15 medium containing 0.1 micro M-insulin and even more in the presence of glucose. L-Serine dehydratase activity in hepatocytes of rats with streptozotocin-induced diabetes was initially 20-fold higher than that of normal rats, but fell rapidly to a low value by 4 days in culture. Hormonal regulation of the enzyme activity was manifested by treatment of the cultured hepatocytes with insulin (0.1 micro M), glucagon (0.3 micro M), dexamethasone (10 micro M) and combinations of these hormones. Either glucagon or dexamethasone in the absence of insulin enhanced the activity of L-serine dehydratase, but failed to do so in the presence of insulin. Treatment with both hormones resulted in a 2-3-fold increase in enzyme activity in culture on days 3 and 4. Under conditions in which the enzyme activity was enhanced, glucose production by the cultured hepatocytes was concomitantly increased. Glucose production resulted in part from gluconeogenesis from pyruvate and not entirely from glycogenolysis. The gluconeogenic conditions of culture resulted in a decrease in cellular lipids in the cultured hepatocytes, as evidenced by ultrastructural studies.

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