The total arylsulphatase activity and the relative activities of lysosomal arylsulphatases A and B were measured in the liver of control rats and rats subjected to treatments that provoke hepatic autophagocytosis. The total liver arylsulphatase activities were increased in starved and starved glucagon-treated rats, but not in sham-operated and hepatectomized rats. Arylsulphatases A and B in the mitochondrial-lysosomal (M-L) fraction were separated by polyacrylamide-gel electrophoresis at pH 8.8; they were made visible by incubating the gels with p-nitrocatechol sulphate as substrate, and measured by quantitative densitometry. In untreated controls, arylsulphatases A and B comprised 41.4 +/- 0.5% and 58.6 +/- 0.5% of the total arylsulphatase activity respectively; the arylsulphatase A/arylsulphatase B activity ratio was 0.71. All experimental treatments produced a significant decrease in the percentage of lysosomal arylsulphatase present as the A form and an increase in that present as the B form, and the activity ratio of arylsulphatase A/arylsulphatase B declined. The magnitude of these changes increased in the following direction: starvation for 24h=sham hepatectomy less than glucagon + starvation less than subtotal hepatectomy. These results indicate that the arylsulphatase A/arylsulphatase B activity ratio in liver lysosomes of normal rats is maintained within rather narrow limits, and this ratio declines during enhanced autophagocytosis. These findings, together with observations that suggest that arylsulphatase B may be a partially degraded form of arylsulphatase A, are consistent with the view that the A form is more rapidly converted into the B form during autophagy, owing to the digestive activity of the other lysosomal hydrolases present in autophagic vacuoles.

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