Glutamine synthesis, a major process for ammonia detoxification and the control of acid–base balance, occurs from various precursors in suspensions of rabbit proximal tubules. However, no data are currently available on the distribution of glutamine synthesis along the rabbit proximal tubule, and its modulation by changes of substrate concentration. Therefore we have microdissected and incubated the three parts (S1, S2 and S3) of rabbit proximal tubules and measured glutamine synthesis from alanine and aspartate. With a physiological concentration of alanine (0.25 mM) or aspartate (0.05 mM), glutamine synthesis in the S1 segment was about half of that in the S2 and S3 segments, and was greater from alanine than from aspartate along the entire proximal tubule. Elevation of alanine and aspartate concentrations to 5 mM increased glutamine synthesis in both a substrate- and segment-dependent manner. It is concluded that glutamine synthesis occurs from alanine and aspartate along the entire rabbit proximal tubule; however, contrary to what might have been expected on the basis of measurement of glutamine synthetase activity, the basal rate of glutamine synthesis and its adaptation to increased substrate availability are heterogeneous along this nephron segment.

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