[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The plasma concentration of phenylalanine and tyrosine decreases in normal rats during the first few postnatal days; subsequently, the concentration of phenylalanine remains more or less constant, whereas that of tyrosine exhibits a high peak on day 13. The basal concentrations of the two amino acids were not altered by injections of thyroxine or cortisol, except in 13-day-old rats, when an injection of cortisol decreased the concentration of tyrosine. In young rats (13-15 days old), treatment with cortisol increased the activity of phenylalanine hydroxylase in the liver (measured in vitro) and accelerated the metabolism of administered phenylalanine: the rate constant of the disappearance of phenylalanine from plasma and the initial increase in tyrosine in plasma correlated quantitatively with the activity of phenylalanine hydroxylase in the liver. In adult rats, the inhibition of this enzyme (attested by assay in vitro) by p-chlorophenylalanine resulted in a proportionate decrease in tyrosine formation from an injection of phenylalanine. However, the quantitative relationship between liver phenylalanine hydroxylase activity and phenylalanine metabolism within the group of young rats was different from that observed among adult rats.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A sensitive method was developed for determining the phenylalanine hydroxylase activity of crude tissue preparations in the presence of optimum concentrations of the 6,7-dimethyl-5,6,7,8-tetrahydropterin cofactor (with ascorbate or dithiothreitol to maintain its reduced state) and substrate. Tissue distribution studies showed that, in addition to the liver, the kidney also contains significant phenylalanine hydroxylase activity, one-sixth (in rats) or half (in mice) as much per g as does the liver. The liver and the kidney enzyme have similar kinetic properties; both were located in the soluble phase and were inhibited by the nucleo-mitochondrial fraction. Phenylalanine hydroxylase, like most rat liver enzymes concerned with amino acid catabolism, develops late. On the 20th day of gestation, the liver (and the kidney) is devoid of phenylalanine hydroxylase and at birth contains 20% of the adult activity. During the second postnatal week of development, when the phenylalanine hydroxylase activity was about 40% of the adult value, an injection of cortisol doubled this value. Cortisol had no significant effect on phenylalanine hydroxylase in adult liver or on phenylalanine hydroxylase in kidney at any age.