Adenosine- and uridine-cytidine kinases, purine-nucleoside phosphorylase, hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyl
transferase, and several related enzymes, are components of the salvage pathways which reduce the loss of intracellular purine and pyrimidine rings. Although this could explain the role of these enzymes, it poses a problem of the role of the cytosolic 5'-nucleotidase. Why are nucleosides produced from nucleoside-monophosphates, only to be converted back to the same compounds? To date, it is well established that a cross talk exists between the extracellular and intracellular nucleoside metabolism. In districts, such as brain, which are dependent on salvage nucleotide synthesis, nucleosides are produced through the action of the ecto-5'-nucleotidase, the last component of a series of plasma-membrane bound enzyme proteins, catalyzing the successive dephosphorylation of released nucleoside-triphosphates. Both nucleosidetriphosphates (mainly ATP and UTP) and nucleosides (mainly adenosine), act as extracellular signals. Once transported into cell cytosol, all nucleosides are salvaged back to nucleoside-triphosphates, with the exception of inosine, whose salvage is limited to IMP. Intracellular balance of nucleosides is maintained by the action of several enzymes, such as adenosine
deaminase, uridine phosphorylase and cytidine deaminase, and by at least three 5'-nucleotidases, the ADP activated AMP preferring cN-IA, the ATP-ADP activated IMP-GMP preferring cN-II, and the UMP-CMP preferring cN-III. Here we are reviewing the mechanisms whereby cytosolic 5'-nucleotidases control changes in nucleoside and nucleotide concentration, with the aim to provide a common basis for the study of the relationship between biochemistry and other related disciplines, such as physiology and pharmacology.