Muscle as the Primary Site of Urea Cycle Enzyme Activity in an Alkaline Lake-adapted Tilapia, Oreochromis alcalicus grahami Journal Articles uri icon

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  • The tilapia fish Oreochromis alcalicus grahami from Kenya has adapted to living in waters at pH 10.5 by excreting the end product of nitrogen metabolism as urea rather than as ammonia directly across the gills as occurs in most fish. The level of activity in liver of the first enzyme in the urea cycle pathway, carbamoyl-phosphate synthetase III (CPSase III), is too low to account for the observed high rates of urea excretion. We report here the surprising finding that CPSase III and all other urea cycle enzyme activities are present in muscle of this species at levels more than sufficient to account for the rate of urea excretion; in addition, the basic kinetic properties of the CPSase III appear to be different from those of other known type III CPSases. The sequence of the CPSase III cDNA is reported as well as the finding that glutamine synthetase activity is present in liver but not in muscle. This unusual form of adaptation may have occurred because of the apparent impossibility of packaging the needed amount of urea cycle enzymes in liver.


  • Lindley, Timothy E
  • Scheiderer, Cary L
  • Walsh, Patrick J
  • Wood, Chris M
  • Bergman, Harold L
  • Bergman, Annie L
  • Laurent, Pierre
  • Wilson, Paul
  • Anderson, Paul M

publication date

  • October 1999