PEPCK is a key enzyme of gluconeogenesis in liver and kidney. Recently, we have shown that small intestine also contributes to the endogenous glucose production in insulinopenia in rats and that glutamine is the main precursor of glucose synthesized in this tissue. The expression of the PEPCK gene in rat and human small intestine and the effect of streptozotocin-induced diabetes and fasting have been studied using reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, Northern blot analysis, and determination of enzyme activity. The PEPCK gene is expressed along the whole small intestine in adult rat and human. The abundance of PEPCK mRNA was increased approximately 30 times in the duodenum, 15 times in the jejunum, and only 3 times in the ileum from diabetic rats. PEPCK mRNA was downregulated in all parts of the tissue upon insulin treatment for 10 h. In 48-h fasted rats, the PEPCK mRNA abundance was increased 17 times in the duodenum and the jejunum and 3 times in the ileum, and it was normalized upon refeeding for 7 h. PEPCK activity was also increased 2-5 times in diabetic and fasted rats in the duodenum and jejunum but not in the ileum. We conclude that PEPCK is a crucial enzyme contributing to the induction of gluconeogenesis in small intestine, just as it is well known to be in the liver and kidney.

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