A cobalamin-dependent N5-methyltetra-hydrofolate-homocysteine methyltransferase (methyl-transferase) was demonstrated in unfractioned extracts of human normal and leukemia leukocytes. Activity was substantially reduced in the absence of an added cobalamin derivative. Presumably, this residual activity reflects the endogeneous level of holoenzyme. Enzyme activity was notably higher in lymphoid cells than in myeloid cells. Thus, mean specific activities (+/-SD) were: chronic lymphocytic leukemia lymphocytes, 2.15+/-1.16; normal lymphocytes, 0.91+/-0.59; normal mature granulocytes, 0.15+/-0.10; chronic myelocytic leukemia granulocytes, barely detectable activity. Properties of leukocytes enzymes resembled those of methyltransferases previously studied in bacteria and other animal cells. Granulocytes and chronic myelocytic leukemia cells contain a factor or factors that inhibits Escherichia coli enzyme. The data suggest that the prominence of this cobalamin-dependent enzyme in lymphocytes and other mononuclear cell types may be related to their potential for cell division.
R Peytremann, J Thorndike, W S Beck