The superoxide-generating enzyme of human neutrophils, NADPH oxidase, is present in a dormant state in unstimulated neutrophils. It can be converted to an active form in a cell-free system if both the plasma membrane and cytosol fractions are incubated together in the presence of arachidonic acid. This system was used to determine the nature of the biochemical defect in seven patients with the autosomal recessive, cytochrome b-positive form of chronic granulomatous disease (CGD). A severe deficiency in the cytosol factor was identified in each patient. The defective activity was not caused by the presence of an inhibitor, nor could it be restored to normal by combining cytosol fractions from different patients. In contrast, the membrane fractions from all seven patients contained normal levels of NADPH oxidase when activated in the presence of control cytosol. Of family members tested (obligate heterozygotes for this disorder), seven of eight had intermediate levels of cytosol factor activity. The respiratory burst defect in this form of CGD is caused by an abnormality in the cytosolic factor required for NADPH oxidase activation.
J T Curnutte, R L Berkow, R L Roberts, S B Shurin, P J Scott