The microsomal enzyme uridine diphosphate (UDP) glucuronate glucuronyltransferase (E.C. 220.127.116.11) catalyzes formation of bilirubin monoglucuronide from bilirubin and UDP-glucuronic acid. Bilirubin glucuronoside glucuronosyltransferase (E.C. 18.104.22.168), an enzyme concentrated in plasma membrane-enriched fractions of rat liver, converts bilirubin monoglucuronide to bilirubin diglucuronide. Bilirubin glucuronoside glucuronosyltransferase activity was studied in homogenates of liver biopsy specimens obtained from patients with the Crigler-Najjar syndrome (Type I) and in subcellular liver fractions of rats homozygous for UDP-glucuronate glucuronyltransferase deficiency (Gunn strain). In patients with the Crigler-Najjar syndrome (Type I) and in Gunn rats, hepatic UDP glucuronate glucuronyltransferase activity was not measurable; however, bilirubin glucuronoside glucuronosyltransferase activity was similar to that in normal controls. The subcellular distribution of bilirubin glucuronoside glucuronosyltransferase activity in Gunn rat liver was similar to the distribution observed in normal Wistar rat liver. When bilirubin monoglucuronide was infused intravenously into Gunn rats, 29±5% of the conjugated bilirubin excreted in bile was bilirubin diglucuronide. After transplantation of normal Wistar rat kidney, which contained UDPglucuronate glucuronyltransferase activity, in Gunn rats, the serum bilirubin concentration decreased by 80% in 4 days. The major route of bilirubin removal was biliary excretion of conjugated bilirubin, approximately 70% of which was bilirubin diglucuronide. Although patients with the Crigler-Najjar syndrome (Type I) and Gunn rats lack UDPglucuronate glucuronyltransferase, their livers enzymatically convert bilirubin monoglucuronide to diglucuronide in vitro. Conversion in bilirubin monoglucuronide to diglucuronide was demonstrated in Gunn rats in vivo.
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