The possibility of quantifying the total concentration of Ca2+-dependent Mg2+-ATPase of sarcoplasmic reticulum was investigated by measurement of the Ca2+-dependent steady-state phosphorylation from [gamma-32P]ATP and the Ca2+-dependent 3-O-methylfluorescein phosphatase (3-O-MFPase) activity in crude muscle homogenates. The Ca2+-dependent phosphorylation at 0 degree C (mean +/- S.E.) was 40.0 +/- 2.5 (n = 6) and 6.2 +/- 0.7 (n = 4) nmol/g wet wt. in rat extensor digitorum longus (EDL) and soleus muscle, respectively (P less than 0.001). The Ca2+-dependent 3-O-MFPase activity at 37 degrees C was 1424 +/- 238 (n = 6) and 335 +/- 56 (n = 4) nmol/min per g wet wt. in rat EDL and soleus muscle, respectively (P less than 0.01). The molecular activity calculated from these measurements amounted to 35 +/- 5 min-1 (n = 6) and 55 +/- 10 min-1 (n = 4) for EDL and soleus muscle respectively. These values were not different from the molecular activity calculated for purified Ca2+-ATPase (36 min-1). The Ca2+-dependent 32P incorporation in soleus muscle decreased in the order mice greater than rats greater than guinea pigs. In EDL muscles from hypothyroid rats at a 30% reduction of the Ca2+-dependent phosphorylation was observed. The Ca2+-dependent phosphorylation in vastus lateralis muscle from three human subjects amounted to 4.5 +/- 0.8 nmol/g wet wt. It is concluded that measurement of the Ca2+-dependent phosphorylation allows rapid and reproducible quantification of the concentration of Ca2+-dependent Mg2+-ATPase of sarcoplasmic reticulum. Since only 20-60 mg of tissue is required for the measurements, the method can also be used for biopsies obtained in clinical studies.

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