The Flux Control Coefficients of mitochondrial outer membrane carnitine palmitoyltransferase (CPT I) with respect to the overall rates of β-oxidation, ketogenesis and tricarboxylic acid cycle activity were measured in hepatocytes isolated from rats in different metabolic states (fed, 24 h-starved, starved–refed and starved/insulin-treated). These conditions were chosen because there is controversy as to whether, when significant control ceases to be exerted by CPT I over the rate of fatty oxidation [Moir and Zammit (1994) Trends Biochem. Sci. 19, 313–317], this is transferred to one or more steps proximal to acylcarnitine synthesis (e.g. decreased delivery of fatty acids to the liver) or to the reaction catalysed by mitochondrial 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA synthase [Hegardt (1995) Biochem. Soc. Trans. 23, 486–490]. Therefore isolated hepatocytes were used in the present study to exclude the involvement of changes in the rate of delivery of non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) to the liver, such as occur in vivo, and to ascertain whether, under conditions of constant supply of NEFA, CPT I retains control over the relevant fluxes of fatty acid oxidation to ketones and carbon dioxide, or whether control is transferred to another (intrahepatocytic) site. The results clearly show that the Flux Control Coefficients of CPT I with respect to overall β-oxidation and ketogenesis are very high under all conditions investigated, indicating that control is not lost to another intrahepatic site during the metabolic transitions studied. The control of CPT I over tricarboxylic acid cycle activity was always very low. The significance of these findings for the integration of fatty acid and carbohydrate metabolism in the liver is discussed.

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Author notes

Present address: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 2QH, U.K.


Present address: Unit of Paediatric Surgery, Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust, 30 Guilford Street, London WC1N 1EH, U.K.