Reduction of the α-isoprene unit of polyprenols to form dolichols was studied in vivo using 3H-polyprenol derivatives as substrates and liposomes as carriers. Liposomes containing labeled polyprenol, polyprenyl phosphate, or polyprenyl pyrophosphate were injected through the portal vein into the livers of rats under anesthesia. Uptake and conversion of the labeled compounds to dolichol derivatives was studied at different intervals. The greatest conversion to dolichol derivatives was found with polyprenyl pyrophosphate and polyprenyl monophosphate, with 31% and 8% of the absorbed dose converted respectively. Less than 0.2% of the absorbed polyprenol was converted to dolichol derivatives. These results suggest that the substrate for the α-isoprene reductase involved in dolichol biosynthesis is either polyprenyl monophosphate or polyprenyl pyrophosphate, or both.

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