Glutamine synthetase (GS), which catalyzes the conversion of glutamate and ammonia to glutamine, is widely distributed in animal tissues and cell culture lines. The importance of this enzyme is suggested by the fact that glutamine, the product of GS-catalyzed de novo synthesis reaction, is the most abundant free amino acid in blood (Smith and Wilmore, 1990). Glutamine is involved in many biological processes including serving as the nitrogen donor for biosynthesis, as an exchanger for the import of essential amino acids, as a means to detoxifying intracellular ammonia and glutamate, and as a bioenergetics nutrient to fuel the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle (Bott et al., 2015). The method for the assay of GS enzymatic activity relies on its γ-glutamyl transferase reaction by measuring γ-glutamylhydroxamate synthesized from glutamine and hydroxylamine, and the chromatographic separation of the reaction product from the reactants (Deuel et al., 1978). An overview of the GS glutamyl transferase reaction can be found in Figure 1. GS activity was measured by a spectrophotometric assay at a specific wavelength of 560 nm using a microplate reader. The method is simple, and has a comparable sensitivity with those methods applying radioactively labelled substrates. This modified procedure has been applied to assay/determine GS activity in cultured cell lines including the human mammary epithelial MCF10A cells and the murine pre-B FL5.12 cells, and could be used to measure GS activity in other cell lines.
Figure 1. An overview of the GS glutamyl transferase reaction
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