The effect of amino acids, in concentrations corresponding to those found in the portal vein of rats given a high-protein diet, was investigated on the activity of system A amino acid transport in hepatocytes from fed rats. Amino acids counteracted the induction of system A by insulin or glucagon. This effect was observed at all concentrations of hormones tested, up to 1 microM. Amino acids did not affect the basal cyclic AMP concentration in hepatocytes, or the large rise in cyclic AMP elicited by glucagon. The reversal of system-A induction was observed at relatively low concentration of amino acids, corresponding to plasma values reported in rats given a basal diet. Amino acids were separately tested: substrates of system A were particularly efficient, but so were glutamine and histidine. Non-metabolizable substrates of system A, such as 2-aminoisobutyrate, were also inhibitory, suggesting that a part of the effect of amino acids is independent of their cellular metabolism. Provision of additional energy substrates such as lactate and oleate did not affect induction of system A or the inhibitory effects of amino acids. Thus amino acids do not act by serving as an energy source and by maintaining the integrity of hepatocytes. Inhibition of mRNA synthesis by actinomycin practically abolished the effect of amino acids on the induction of system A by glucagon. The results suggest that amino acids may promote the synthesis of protein(s) affecting the activity of system A either directly at the carrier unit or at an intermediate stage of its emergence.

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