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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1977 Aug 24;488(2):312-21.

The isolation and characterization of sphingomyelinase from human placental tissue.


Human placental sphingomyelinase activity was eluted as a single symmetrical peak from Sephadex G-200 with a molecular weight of 290000; however, the enzyme behaved heterogeneously on ion exchange chromatography. A specific species of sphingomyelinase was purified approx. 10 000-fold to a constant specific activity of 274 000 nanomol of sphingomyelin hydrolyzed per mg protein per h. When the purified enzyme was examined on sodium dodecyl sulfate disc gel electrophoresis, two distinct protein bands in approximately equal proportions with molecular weights of 36 800 and 28 300 were found. The specificity of the enzyme is directed towards both the hydrophilic phosphocholine and the hydrophobic ceramide moieties of sphingomyelin. Possible interrelationships between the heterogenous forms of placental sphingomyelinases are discussed.

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