The formation and isolation of [6-3H]FdUMP-thymidylate synthase-5,10-methylenetetra-hydrofolate covalent complex have been examined in tumor cytosols incubated with albumin-dextran coated charcoal used to remove endogenous nucleotide. Charcoal suspension (10% charcoal, 0.5% albumin, 0.05% dextran) adsorbed < 98% of dUMP added to cytosols, but it reduced by 42-87% covalent complex isolated from subsequent incubation with [6-3H]FdUMP and cofactor using cytosols from different tumors. Initial treatment of ternary complex with charcoal suspension did not cause a decrease in stability of covalent complex during subsequent incubation (37°), but complex separated from free ligand by 10% charcoal suspension was not stable to further treatment with 4% charcoal suspension. Treatment of tumor cytosols with 10% charcoal suspension, to remove nucleotide, did not decrease the rate at which enzyme catalyzed the release of 3H2O from [5-3H]dUMP, or release active enzyme from the ternary complex. Based on these observations, a sensitive procedure for determining thymidylate synthase activity has been developed in which unbound nucleotides (dUMP, FdUMP) are removed prior to assay of enzyme activity. The procedure is suitable for assay of small samples of tissue or of tissues with a low (or inhibited) level of thymidylate synthase activity.
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