1. Three fractions of β-galactosidase activity from the rat small-intestinal mucosa were separated chromatographically. Two of these fractions had an acid pH optimum at 3–4, and the third one had a more neutral pH optimum at 5·7. 2. The two ‘acid’ β-galactosidase fractions had considerably lower Km values for hetero β-galactosides than for lactose. The Vmax. values were similar for all the substrates used (lactose, phenyl β-galactoside, o-nitrophenyl β-galactoside, p-nitrophenyl β-galactoside and 6-bromo-2-naphthyl β-galactoside). No difference could be detected between the two ‘acid’ fractions with respect to their enzymic properties (pH optimum, Km for the different substrates, Ki for lactose as an inhibitor of the hydrolysis of hetero β-galactosides, Ki for phenyl β-galactoside as an inhibitor of the hydrolysis of lactose, and relative Vmax. for the hydrolysis of different substrates). These two fractions probably represent different forms of the same enzyme. 3. The ‘neutral’ fraction had similar Km values for all the substrates hydrolysed, but with lactose as substrate the Vmax. was much higher than with the hetero β-galactosides. This fraction did not split phenyl β-galactoside or 6-bromo-2-naphthyl β-galactoside at a measurable rate. 4. Lactose was a competitive inhibitor of the hetero β-galactosidase activities of all the three fractions, and Ki for lactose as an inhibitor in each case was the same as Km for the lactase activity. Phenyl β-galactoside was a competitive inhibitor of the lactase activity of all the three fractions. These facts strongly indicate that in all the three fractions lactose is hydrolysed by the same active sites as the hetero β-galactosides. 5. Human serum albumin stabilized the separated enzymes against inactivation by freezing and thawing.

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