From pancreatic islets to central nervous system, the importance of glutamate dehydrogenase for the control of energy homeostasis.
Mammalian glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH) is an allosterically regulated enzyme that is expressed widely. Its activity is potently inhibited by GTP and thought to be controlled by the need of the cell for ATP. In addition to this housekeeping human (h) GDH1, humans have acquired (via a duplication event) a highly homologous isoenzyme (hGDH2) that is resistant to GTP. Although transcripts of GLUD2, the gene encoding hGDH2, have been detected in human neural and testicular tissues, data on the endogenous protein are lacking. Here, we developed an antibody specific for hGDH2 and used it to study human tissues. Western blot analyses revealed, to our surprise, that endogenous hGDH2 is more densely expressed in testis than in brain. At the subcellular level, hGDH2 localized to mitochondria. Study of testicular tissue using immunocytochemical and immunofluorescence methods revealed that the Sertoli cells were strongly labeled by our anti-hGDH2 antibody. In human cerebral cortex, a robust labeling of astrocytes was detected, with neurons showing faint hGDH2 immunoreactivity. Astrocytes and Sertoli cells are known to support neurons and germ cells, respectively, providing them with lactate that largely derives from the tricarboxylic acid cycle via conversion of glutamate to alpha-ketoglutarate (GDH reaction). As hGDH2 is not subject to GTP control, the enzyme is able to metabolize glutamate even when the tricarboxylic acid cycle generates GTP amounts sufficient to inactivate the housekeeping hGDH1 protein. Hence, the selective expression of hGDH2 by astrocytes and Sertoli cells may provide a significant biological advantage by facilitating metabolic recycling processes essential to the supportive role of these cells.