The in vivo regulation by metal ions of the enzymes of heme metabolism in kidney-particularly of ALAS, the rate-limiting enzyme in heine formation- was investigated. Ni(2+) and Pt(4+), metals which do not enzymatically form metalloporphyrins, were found to regulate ALAS in kidney as they do in liver. The pattern of this regulation was generally similar to that observed with heme and metal ions in liver, i.e., a late increase in enzyme activity after an early period in which ALAS activity was unaltered or inhibited. The metals did not interact with the enzyme in vitro to alter its activity. In this study no direct reciprocal relationship between ALAS activity and total cellular heine content was demonstrated. The metal ions, particularly Pt(4+), also altered the activity of other enzymes of heme biosynthesis in kidney. Pt(4+) severely inhibited the activity of ALAD and UROS. Ni(2+) and Pt(4+) were potent inducers of heme oxygenase, the initial and rate-limiting enzyme in heine degradation.

It is proposed that the physiological regulation of ALAS is mediated through the action of metal ions, rather than by the cellular content of heine, and that the regulation of ALAS by heine reflects the action of the central metal ion of heme rather than that of the entire metalloporphyrin complex. In this proposed mechanism for metal ion regulation of ALAS, the tetrapyrrole moiety of heine is considered to function principally as an efficient carrier of metal to the regulatory site for ALAS production, inasmuch as the tetrapyrrole ring itself has been shown in earlier studies not to have any effect on ALAS activity. The production of heine oxygenase is believed to be similarly regulated.

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