10-Formyl-7,8-dihydrofolic acid (10-HCO-H2folate) was prepared by controlled air oxidation of 10-formyl-5,6,7,8-tetrahydrofolic acid (10-HCO-H4folate). The UV spectra of the 10-HCO-H2folate preparation has lambda max. 234, 333 nm and lambda min. 301 nm at pH 7.4, and lambda max. 257, 328 nm and lambda min. 229, 307 nm at pH 1. 1H-NMR spectroscopy of 10-HCO-H2folate (in 2H2O; 300 MHz) suggested a pure compound and gave resonances for one formyl group proton, two protons on C-7 and C-9, and no evidence for a C-6 proton, which is consistent with the structure proposed. The spectral properties indicated that the 10-HCO-H2folate preparation is not appreciably contaminated with 10-HCO-H4folate, 5,10-methenyltetrahydrofolic acid (5,10-CH = H4folate) or 10-formylfolic acid (10-HCO-folate). The above data establish that the 10-HCO-H2folate prepared here is authentic. In contrast, a folate with a UV spectrum having lambda max. 272 nm and lambda min. 256 nm at pH 7, which was prepared by 2,6-dichloro-indophenol oxidation of 10-HCO-H4folate and reported to be 97% pure [Baram, Chabner, Drake, Fitzhugh, Sholar and Allegra (1988) J. Biol. Chem. 263, 7105-7111], is apparently not 10-HCO-H2folate. 10-HCO-H2folate is utilized by Jurkat-cell (human T-cell leukaemia) and chicken liver aminoimidazolecarboxamide ribonucleotide transformylase (AICAR T'ase; EC in the presence of excess 5-amino-imidazole-4-carboxamide ribotide (AICAR) resulting in the appearance of approximately 1 mol of H2folate product for each mol of AICAR formylated. The present 10-HCO-H2folate preparation had a kinetic advantage over 10-HCO-H4folate resulting from a difference of approx. 5-fold in K(m) values when both folates were used as cofactors for Jurkat-cell and rat bone marrow AICAR T'ase. No substantial kinetic advantage was observed using chicken liver AICAR T'ase. 10-HCO-H2folate had little or no activity with Jurkat-cell or chicken liver glycinamide ribonucleotide transformylase (GAR T'ase, EC The existence in vivo of 10-HCO-H2folate is suggested in mammals by several reports of detectable amounts of radiolabelled 10-HCO-folate in bile and urine after administration of radiolabelled folic acid.

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