Mouse mastocytoma cells were cultured in medium containing [3H]GlcN and concentrations of [35S]sulphate varying from 0.01 to 0.5 mM. Intracellular [35S]sulphate incorporation increased severalfold from the lowest concentrations, reaching a maximum at 0.1-0.2 mM, whereas incorporation of [3H]hexosamine remained constant at all sulphate concentrations. Proteo[3H]-chondroitin [35S]sulphate was isolated and incubated with chondroitin ABC lyase, yielding 35S-labelled and/or 3H-labelled delta Di-0S and delta Di-4S disaccharide products. The increasing percentage of delta Di-4S was consistent with the increasing sulphate incorporation at each higher [35S]sulphate concentration. Examination of proteochondroitin [35S]sulphate size by Sepharose CL-6B chromatography indicated a range consistent with various numbers of glycosaminoglycan chains on the protease-resistant serglycin core protein. Alkali-cleaved chondroitin [35S]sulphate products indicated similar size distributions at all sulphate concentrations with no indication of preferential sulphation being related to smaller or larger size. DEAE-cellulose chromatography of [3H]chondroitin [35S]sulphate glycosaminoglycans indicated a random undersulphation as [35S]sulphate concentration was lowered. Addition of 4-methylumbelliferyl beta-D-xyloside to the cultures resulted in a 2-2.5-fold stimulation of [3H]chondroitin [35S]sulphate synthesis with formation of beta-xyloside-[3H]chondroitin [35S]sulphate which was much smaller, as estimated by Sepharose CL-6B chromatography, than the decreased amount of [3H]chondroitin [35S]sulphate derived from proteo[3H]chondroitin [35S]sulphate. Much higher concentrations of sulphate were necessary to produce sulphation of the beta-xyloside-[3H]chondroitin comparable with that of proteo[3H]-chondroitin, as indicated by chondroitin ABC lyase products and DEAE-cellulose chromatography. The specific radioactivities of the [3H]GalN in the proteo[3H]chondroitin [35S]sulphate and beta-xyloside-[3H]chondroitin [35S]sulphate were calculated from the 3H and 35S c.p.m. of isolated dual-labelled delta Di-4S from each, and indicated that the presence of the beta-xyloside resulted in a dilution of the [3H]GlcN by endogenous GlcN that was 4 times higher than that of cultures lacking the beta-xyloside. The higher sulphate concentrations needed for sulphation of beta-xyloside-chondroitin suggests that the membrane-bound nature of the proteochondroitin acceptor in juxtaposition to a chondroitin sulphate-synthesizing enzyme complex effectively reduces the apparent Km for adenosine 3′-phosphate 5′-phosphosulphate.

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