This chapter is related to lactose synthesis, its chemistry, regulation, and differences between species, especially in cattle. Lactose synthesis takes place in the Golgi apparatus of mammary epithelial cells (MEC) by the lactose synthase (LS) enzyme complex from two precursors, glucose and UDP-galactose. The enzyme complex is formed by galactosyltransferase, and it is associated with α-lactalbumin. Importantly, the lactose secreted determines the volume of milk produced, due to its osmotic properties. Milk contains 5% lactose and 80% water, percentages that remain constant during lactation in the different mammalian species. The low variation in milk lactose content indicates that lactose synthesis remains constant throughout the period of lactation and that is highly conserved in all mammals. Lactose synthesis is initiated during the first third of the pregnancy, increasing after birth and placenta removal. Different glucose transporters have been involved in mammary glucose uptake, mainly facilitative glucose transporters GLUT1, GLUT8, and GLUT12 and sodium-glucose transporter SGLT1, with more or less participation depending on mammal species.
Part of the book: Lactose and Lactose Derivatives