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J Biol Chem. 2001 Oct 19;276(42):38388-93. Epub 2001 Aug 15.

Subcellular distribution of superoxide dismutases (SOD) in rat liver: Cu,Zn-SOD in mitochondria.

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Department of Biochemistry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.


Rat liver was homogenized in isotonic buffer, fractionated by differential centrifugation, and then subfractionated by equilibrium sedimentation in Nycodenz gradients. Fractions were assayed for both Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase (SOD) and Mn-SOD by exploiting the cyanide sensitivity of the former activity and by the use of specific antibodies. As expected, the cytosol and lysosomal fractions contained Cu,Zn-SOD; while the mitochondrial matrix contained Mn-SOD. In mitochondria, Cu,Zn-SOD was found in the intermembrane space and Mn-SOD in the matrix and also on the inner membrane. The Mn-SOD associated with the inner membrane was solubilized by 0.5 m NaCl. Surprisingly the intracellular membrane fraction (microsomes) contained bound Cu,Zn-SOD that could be solubilized with a detergent, and to lesser degree with 0.5 m NaCl. Both the cytosolic and mitochondrial Cu,Zn-SODs were isolated and compared. They have identical molecular mass, cyanide sensitivity, SDS sensitivity, heat stability, and chloroform + ethanol stability. Tissue from Cu,Zn-SOD knockout mice was entirely devoid of Cu,Zn-SOD; indicating that the cytosolic and the intermembrane space Cu,Zn-SODs are coded for by the same gene. The significance of this distribution of the SODs is discussed.

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