Avian and Mammalian Mitochondrial Ammonia-Detoxifying Systems in Tortoise Liver

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  19 Apr 1985:
Vol. 228, Issue 4697, pp. 349-351
DOI: 10.1126/science.228.4697.349


Liver mitochondria from the desert tortoise Gopherus agassizii and the Texas tortoise G. berlandieri contain glutamine synthetase, the enzyme used by birds and higher reptiles to detoxify ammonia generated intramitochondrially during amino acid catabolism. Tortoise mitochondria also contain carbamyl phosphate synthetase-I and ornithine transcarbamylase, the enzymes used by mammals for this purpose. Since chelonid reptiles have changed little since their divergence from the stem reptiles, this finding suggests that both systems were present in the latter before the emergence of the ruling reptile, avian, and mammalian lines of descent.