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Arginine-specific carbamoyl phosphate metabolism in mitochondria of Neurospora crassa. Channeling and control by arginine.


Citrulline is synthesized in mitochondria of Neurospora crassa from ornithine and carbamoyl phosphate. In mycelia grown in minimal medium, carbamoyl phosphate limits citrulline (and arginine) synthesis. Addition of arginine to such cultures reduces the availability of intramitochondrial ornithine, and ornithine then limits citrulline synthesis. We have found that for some time after addition of excess arginine, carbamoyl phosphate synthesis continued. Very little of this carbamoyl phosphate escaped the mitochondrion to be used in the pyrimidine pathway in the nucleus. Instead, mitochondrial carbamoyl phosphate accumulated over 40-fold and turned over rapidly. This was true in ornithine- or ornithine carbamoyltransferase-deficient mutants and in normal mycelia during feedback inhibition of ornithine synthesis. The data suggest that the rate of carbamoyl phosphate synthesis is dependent to a large extent upon the specific activity of the slowly and incompletely repressible synthetic enzyme, carbamoyl-phosphate synthetase A. In keeping with this conclusion, we found that when carbamoyl-phosphate synthetase A was repressed 2-10-fold by growth of mycelia in arginine, carbamoyl phosphate was still synthesized in excess of that used for residual citrulline synthesis. Again, only a small fraction of the excess carbamoyl phosphate could be accounted for by diversion to the pyrimidine pathway. The continued synthesis and turnover of carbamoyl phosphate in mitochondria of arginine-grown cells may allow rapid resumption of citrulline formation after external arginine disappears and no longer exerts negative control on ornithine biosynthesis.

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