Phospholipid methyltransferase, the enzyme that converts phosphatidylethanolamine into phosphatidylcholine with S-adenosyl-L-methionine as the methyl donor, was purified to apparent homogeneity from rat liver microsomal fraction. When analysed by SDS/polyacrylamide-gel electrophoresis only one protein, with molecular mass about 50 kDa, is detected. This protein could be phosphorylated at a single site by incubation with [alpha-32P]ATP and the catalytic subunit of cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase. A less-purified preparation of the enzyme is mainly composed of two proteins, with molecular masses about 50 kDa and 25 kDa, the 50 kDa form being phosphorylated at the same site as the homogeneous enzyme. After purification of both proteins by electro-elution, the 25 kDa protein forms a dimer and migrates on SDS/polyacrylamide-gel electrophoresis with molecular mass about 50 kDa. Peptide maps of purified 25 kDa and 50 kDa proteins are identical, indicating that both proteins are formed by the same polypeptide chain(s). It is concluded that rat liver phospholipid methyltransferase can exist in two forms, as a monomer of 25 kDa and as a dimer of 50 kDa. The dimer can be phosphorylated by cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase.

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