• Cholesterol esterifying enzymes;
  • Developing rat brain;
  • Myelination

Abstract: A cholesterol-esterifying enzyme which incorporates exogenous fatty acids into cholesterol esters in the presence of ATP and coenzyme A was demonstrated in 15-day-old rat brain. This enzyme was maximally active at pH 7.4 and distinct from the cholesterol-esterifying enzyme reported earlier (Eto and Suzuki, 1971), which has a pH optimum at 5.2 and does not require cofactors. Properties of the two enzymes have been compared. Both the enzymes showed negligible esterification with acetate and were maximally active with oleic acid. The pH 5.2 enzyme esterified desmosterol, lanosterol and cholesterol at about the same rate, while the pH 7.4 enzyme was only 50% as active with lanosterol as it was with cholesterol and desmosterol. Phosphatidyl serine stimulated the pH 5.2 enzyme but not the pH 7.4 enzyme. Phosphatidyl choline and sodium taurocholate showed no effect on either of the enzymes. Both the enzymes were associated with particulate fractions, but the pH 7.4 enzyme was localized more in the microsomes. Purified myelin showed 2.6-fold and 1.5-fold higher specific activities of pH 5.2 and 7.4 enzymes respectively, when compared with homogenate. About 7–10% of total activity of both the enzymes was associated with purified myelin. Brain stem and spinal cord showed higher specific activity of pH 5.2 enzyme than cerebral cortex and cerebellum, while pH 7.4 enzyme specific activity was higher in cerebellum and brain stem than in cerebral cortex and spinal cord. Microsomal pH 7.4 activity showed progressive increase prior to the active period of myelination, reaching a maximum on the 15th day after birth and declined to 20% of the peak activity by 30 days. In contrast, pH 5.2 enzyme reached maximum activity about the 6th day after birth and remained at this level well into adulthood. In 15-day-old rat brain, pH 7.4 enzyme had five to six times higher specific activity than pH 5.2 enzyme, while in adults the activities were equal. The pH 7.4 enzyme showed a threefold higher specific activity than pH 5.2 enzyme in myelin from 15-day-old rats, but in adults the reverse was true.