A simple method for purifying L-(/sup 3/H) glutamic acid and incubation conditions suitable for estimating L-glutamic acid decarboxylase activity are described. Routine and recycled cation-exchange procedure for separating ..gamma..-aminobutyric acid from L-glutamate are outlined and compared. Recycling increases the sensitivity of the cation-exchange method by 6-7 fold. L-Glutamate decarboxylase activity can be measured reliably in samples of embryonic neural tissue having wet-weights of approximately 1 ..mu..g. The cation-exchange method is compared with the anion-exchange and CO/sub 2/-trapping methods. L-Glutamate decarboxylase activity has been detected in the lumbar spinal cord of the chick embryo at Day 21/4 (stage 14) using the cation-exchange method. This is 5-6 days earlier than L-glutamate decarboxylase activity has been detected in embryonic neural tissue by previous investigators. L-Glutamate decarboxylase is present in the lumbar spinal cord at least as early as the birth of the first lumbar spinal cord neurons and at least 1-2 days before the initiation of synaptogenesis.
Maderdrut, J L;  North Carolina Univ., Chapel Hill (USA). School of Medicine)
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