Six new defective pyruvate kinase variants have been characterized in patients suffering from chronic hemolysis. Partially purified enzyme variants exhibited various anomalies from immunological, kinetic, stability and electrophoretic points of view. The significance of the electrophoretic anomalies has been interpreted in view of the normal post-synthetic maturation of the precursor enzyme L'4 into L2L'2 and L4, and the ability of trypsin to induce in vitro the transition L'4 leads to L4 has been tested. One defective enzyme existed in a single L'4 form and could not be transformed by trypsin into L4. In three cases slow-moving L'4 and L2L'2 forms were transformed by trypsin into an abnormal slow-moving L4 form. In the last two observations the L'4 and L2L'2 forms exhibited normal mobility and were normally transformed by trypsin into L4. The relevance of these data to the functional anomalies of the defective variants and to the nature of the primary genetic anomaly giving rise to the congenital defects in erythrocyte pyruvate kinase is discussed.
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