The UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) system fulfils a pivotal role in the biotransformation of potentially toxic endogenous and exogenous compounds. Here we report that the activity of UGT in rat liver is stimulated by UDP-xylose. This stimulation was found in native microsomal vesicles as well as in the intact endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane, as studied in permeabilized hepatocytes, indicating the potential physiological importance of UDP-xylose in the regulation of UGT. We present evidence that UDP-xylose enhances UGT activity by stimulation of (i) the uptake of UDP-glucuronic acid across the ER membrane and (ii) the elimination of the UDP and/or UMP reaction product out of the ER lumen. UDP-xylose produced a marked trans-stimulation of microsomal UDP-glucuronic acid uptake when it was present within the lumen of the ER. When UDP-xylose was presented at the cytosolic side of the ER, it acted as a weak inhibitor of UDP-glucuronic acid uptake. Likewise, cytosolic UDP-glucuronic acid strongly trans-stimulated efflux of intravesicular UDP-xylose, whereas cytosolic UDP-xylose was inefficient in trans-stimulating efflux of UDP-glucuronic acid. Microsomal UDP-xylose influx was markedly stimulated by UMP and UDP. Such stimulation was only apparent when microsomes had been preincubated and thereby preloaded with UMP or UDP, indicating that UMP and UDP exerted their effect on UDP-xylose uptake by trans-stimulation from the luminal side of the ER membrane.

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