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Title: Excretory nitrogen metabolism in the juvenile axolotl Ambystoma mexicanum: Differences in aquatic and terrestrial environments
Authors: Loong, A.M.
Chew, S.F.
Ip, Y.K. 
Issue Date: Sep-2002
Citation: Loong, A.M., Chew, S.F., Ip, Y.K. (2002-09). Excretory nitrogen metabolism in the juvenile axolotl Ambystoma mexicanum: Differences in aquatic and terrestrial environments. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 75 (5) : 459-468. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: The fully grown but nonmetamorphosed (juvenile) axolotl Ambystoma mexicanum was ureogenic and primarily ureotelic in water. A complete ornithine-urea cycle (OUC) was present in the liver. Aerial exposure impeded urea (but not ammonia) excretion, leading to a decrease in the percentage of nitrogen excreted as urea in the first 24 h. However, urea and not ammonia accumulated in the muscle, liver, and plasma during aerial exposure. By 48 h, the rate of urea excretion recovered fully, probably due to the greater urea concentration gradient in the kidney. It is generally accepted that an increase in carbamoyl phosphate synthetase activity is especially critical in the developmental transition from ammonotelism to ureotelism in the amphibian. Results from this study indicate that such a transition in A. mexicanum would have occurred before migration to land. Aerial exposure for 72 h exhibited no significant effect on carbamoyl phosphate synthetase-I activity or that of other OUC enzymes (with the exception of ornithine transcarbamoylase) from the liver of the juvenile A. mexicanum. This supports our hypothesis that the capacities of OUC enzymes present in the liver of the aquatic juvenile axolotl were adequate to prepare it for its invasion of the terrestrial environment. The high OUC capacity was further supported by the capability of the juvenile A. mexicanum to survive in 10 mM NH4Cl without accumulating amino acids in its body. The majority of the accumulating endogenous and exogenous ammonia was detoxified to urea, which led to a greater than two-fold increase in urea levels in the muscle, liver, and plasma and a significant increase in urea excretion by hour 96. Hence, it can be concluded that the juvenile axolotl acquired ureotelism while submerged in water, and its hepatic capacity of urea synthesis was more than adequate to handle the toxicity of endogenous ammonia during migration to land.
Source Title: Physiological and Biochemical Zoology
ISSN: 15222152
DOI: 10.1086/343883
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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