Although many vertebrates can synthesize ascorbic acid (vitamin C), it is still unclear from the evolutionary perspective when the ability to synthesize the vitamin first appeared in the animal kingdom and how frequently the trait has been lost. We report here ascorbic acid biosynthesis ability in sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) which represent the most ancient vertebrate lineage examined thus far for presence of gulonolactone oxidase, the enzyme catalyzing the terminal step in biosynthesis of vitamin C. This finding supports the view that the ancestors of living vertebrates were not scurvy prone and that the loss of gulonolactone oxidase activity subsequently occurred several times in vertebrate phylogeny. Adult sea lamprey allocate significant amounts of ascorbic acid to the gonads to guaranty high-quality gametes. Tissue stores of ascorbate were maintained by de novo synthesis (1.2-1.3 mg of ascorbic acid/300-g sea lamprey per day at 15°C) while sea lamprey fast during spawning migration. We estimate that the in vivo daily renewal rate of ascorbate is 4-5% of the whole-body ascorbate pool based on measurement of its biosynthesis and concentration in the whole animal.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||4|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Aug 18 1998|
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