The present studies were undertaken to determine whether mevalonate 5-pyrophosphate decarboxylase (EC is subject to physiological regulation in the intestinal mucosa. Activity was determined in epithelial cells isolated in a villus-to-crypt gradient from chicks fed on different diets in order to vary the sterol flux across the intestinal epithelium. When animals were fed on cholesterol, decarboxylase activity was decreased in all the cell fractions studied, although percentages of inhibition were maximum in crypts of jejunum and ileum. In contrast, decreased sterol flux as a consequence of cholestyramine feeding stimulated decarboxylase activity, especially in villi of the duodenum, where values increased 3-fold with respect to controls. On the other hand, the total cellular sterol content was significantly increased by the cholesterol diet. In duodenum and jejunum, 20-30% of the total cholesterol was in the esterified form under these conditions. However, dietary cholestyramine did not significantly affect amounts of total cellular cholesterol in any of the cell fractions. These results demonstrate that mevalonate 5-pyrophosphate decarboxylase activity changes considerably under different dietary situations and that the existence of secondary sites in the physiological regulation of sterol synthesis in the intestinal mucosa should be considered.

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