O6-Methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase, a DNA repair enzyme which transfers the methyl group of O6-methylguanine residue to a cysteinyl residue in the methyltransferase itself, was examined in rat organs by quantifying the S-methylcysteine formed in the methyl acceptor protein. Among the various organs examined, the spleen exhibited the highest enzyme specific activity followed by the thymus, liver, lung and testis. Brain had the lowest activity. The patterns of subcellular distribution of the methyltransferase in spleen and liver were different: while 75-80% of the activity was present in the nuclear fraction of the spleen, 54% of the activity in the liver was found in the nuclei and 35% in the cytosolic fraction. Forty-five and thirty-five percent of the total nuclear enzyme activity could be extracted with 1 M and 2 M NaCl solutions, respectively, indicating that the repair enzyme is not tightly bound to the nuclear matrix. When isolated nuclei were incubated with [methyl-3H]DNA substrate and subsequently fractionated into histone and non-histone protein fractions, over 90% of the radioactivity was coeluted on a Bio-Rex 70 column with the non-histone fraction and only a negligible amount of radioactivity was found to be associated with the histone fraction. The molecular mass of the [methyl-3H]methyltransferase in the non-histone fraction was determined to be 23,000, and its pI value was found to be 6.6 by two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis.
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