The contribution of cystathionine gamma-lyase, cystathionine beta-synthase and cysteine aminotransferase coupled to 3-mercaptopyruvate sulphurtransferase to cysteine desulphhydration in rat liver and kidney was assessed with four different assay systems. Cystathionine gamma-lyase and cystathionine beta-synthase were active when homogenates were incubated with 280 mM-L-cysteine and 3 mM-pyridoxal 5′-phosphate at pH 7.8. Cysteine aminotransferase in combination with 3-mercaptopyruvate sulphurtransferase catalysed essentially all of the H2S production from cysteine at pH 9.7 with 160 mM-L-cysteine, 2 mM-pyridoxal 5′-phosphate, 3 mM-2-oxoglutarate and 3 mM-dithiothreitol. At more-physiological concentrations of cysteine (2 mM) cystathionine gamma-lyase and cystathionine beta-synthase both appeared to be active in cysteine desulphhydration, whereas the aminotransferase pathway did not. The effect of inhibition of cystathionine gamma-lyase by a suicide inactivator, propargylglycine, in the intact rat was also investigated; there was no significant effect of propargylglycine administration on the urinary excretion of total 35S, 35SO4(2-) or [35S]taurine formed from labelled dietary cysteine.

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