Implications of a 5′-nucleotidase inhibitor in human leukemic cells for cellular aging and cancer

Alexander S. Sun, James F. Holland, Kant Lin, Takao Ohnuma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


5′-Nucleotidase activity of normal human embryonic lung fibroblasts (IMR-90) was found to be inhibited by the homogenates of seven different cell lines originated from patients with different kinds of leukemia and of fresh lymphocytes from a patient with Sezary syndrome (circulating T-cell lymphoma). About 97% of the inhibiting activity was found in the soluble fraction of RPMI 8402 cells, a cell line originated from the lymphocytes of a patient with acute lymphocytic leukemia. This inhibiting activity was not destroyed by dialysis, heating at 56°C for 30 min, nor digestion with RNAase or DNAase. About 85% of the inhibiting activity was destroyed by digestion with papain at 37°C for 1 h and it was destroyed completely by heating at 100°C for 30 min. When the heated (56°C for 30 min) soluble fraction of RPMI 8402 cells was mixed with the homogenate of IMR-90 cells, it had no effect on the activities of alkaline, neutral or acid phosphatases, nor of N-acetyl-β-d-glucosaminidase or cytochrome c oxidase of IMR-90 cells. Preincubating the mixed samples for 1, 20 and 45 min, respectively, before adding the substrate, the heated soluble fraction of RPMI 8402 cells did not increase the percentage of inhibition for 5′-nucleotidase of the homogenate of IMR-90 cells. No inhibition of other enzyme activities was observed under similar conditions. These data suggest that the inhibiting activity is due to a protein(s) that is not a protease. The inhibiting activity was found in a single peak after the soluble fraction was fractionated by Sephadex G-100 chromatography and sedimentation centrifugation. The molecular weight of the inhibitor was found to be approx. 35 000 by comparing its retention volume and sedimentation rate with those of proteins of known molecular weight. The present study suggests that the previously reported undetectability of 5′-nucleotidase in permanent cell lines could be due to the presence of a protein inhibitor for 5′-nucleotidase in these human leukemic cell lines. It also supports the hypothesis that the increased 5′-nucleotidase activity in normal senescent cells in vitro may be a control in cellular aging that is missing from leukemic cells in vitro.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-584
Number of pages8
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Cell Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 14 Jul 1983
Externally publishedYes


  • (Human leukemia cell)
  • 5′-Nucleotidase inhibitor
  • Aging
  • Cancer


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