The Journal of biological chemistry

Multiple molecular forms of catechol-O-methyltransferase. Evidence for two distinct forms, and their purification and physical characterization.

PMID 762061


Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT: EC has been shown to exist in the soluble fraction of rat liver as two distinct molecular forms, designated COMT I and COMT II, which are separable by gel filtration, ion exchange chromatography, and sedimentation. The predominant form, COMT I, has a smaller Mr of about 24,000, as determined by gel filtration and sedimentation, and less negative charge, whereas the minor form, COMT II, has a larger Mr of about 47,500 and more negative charge. The COMT I and COMT II have been purified 450- and 205-fold, respectively, from rat liver by a newly developed procedure which gives homogeneous enzyme preparations with respect to catechol-methylating activities. The molecular properties of the predominant form, COMT I, were: s20,w, 2.7; D20,W, 10.5; Stokes radius, 20.1 A; f/fo, 1.08; and pI, 4.9. For the minor form, COMT II, the values were s20,w, 3.8; D20,w, 7.3; Stokes radius, 28.7 A; f/fo, 1.23; and pI, 4.8. Catechol-O-methyltransferase was found to exhibit tissue-specific isozymic patterns in the distribution of its two variant forms. In the rat tissues, the liver and kidney exhibited the presence of the two physically separable forms. Catechol-O-methyltransferase was also found as two distinct molecular forms in human tissues, including liver, brain, and placenta. The two forms of human catechol-O-methyltransferase were not distinguishable by the criteria of gel filtration from their counterparts in rat liver, indicating that the two molecular forms of human and rat liver catechol-O-methyltransferase are homologous. No interconversion of one molecular form of catechol-O-methyltransferase into the other was observed under experimental conditions employed. Available evidence indicates that the two molecular forms of catechol-O-methyltransferase are genetically dissimilar proteins.