Rat kidney homogenates metabolize N6-trimethyl-lysine to N-trimethylammoniobutyrate, but not to carnitine. The first step in this conversion is the hydroxylation of trimethyl-lysine to form 3-hydroxy-N6-trimethyl-lysine. An assay system was developed in which hydroxylation of trimethyl-lysine is linear with respect to both time and homogenate protein concentration. The rate is 5 nmol of 3-hydroxy-N6-trimethyl-lysine formed/min per mg of homogenate protein. The cofactors required are ascorbate, alpha-oxoglutarate, FeSO4, and O2. Catalase and dithiothreitol give a 20% stimulation. Ca2+ produces a 2-fold increase in specific activity and cannot be replaced by Mg2+, Mn2+ or Zn2+. These last three bivalent cations lead to a decreased activity. Subcellular distribution studies demonstrate that trimethyl-lysine hydroxylase activity parallels the distribution profile of succinate dehydrogenase and citrate synthase. Thus trimethyl-lysine hydroxylase has a mitochondrial localization. Distribution of trimethyl-lysine hydroxylase activity between cortex and medulla of kidney if 67 and 33% respectively, similar to mitochondrial distribution.

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