Age-dependent alterations of DNA synthesis. Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase and DNA polymerase activities in bone marrow subpopulations from mice

Mech Ageing Dev. 1980 Jun;13(2):119-26. doi: 10.1016/0047-6374(80)90055-x.


The decrease of functional capacity of cellular immunity during ageing seems to be due to cellular changes of stem cells, particularly in the growth properties and the cell density in T-cell subsets. We approached this problem at the molecular biological level by quantifying the key enzymes necessary for DNA synthesis in bone marrow cells from mice: deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT) and DNA polymerase alpha. The bone marrow cells were fractionated on a discontinuous bovine serum albumin density gradient and the extractable enzyme activities (expressed per 10(8) nucleated cells in the respective fraction) were determined. TdT activity was found to decrease markedly during ageing. Mature animals contain only 34% and senescent animals only 13% of the activity observed in immature mice. From the density distribution analysis it was found that a shift of TdT-containing cells to the lower density occurs. The specific DNA polymerase alpha activity also decreases in bone marrow cells with age. While the overall activity amounts in immature cells to 78 enzyme units/10(8) cells, it decreases in mature cells to 57 units/10(8) cells, and in cells from senescent animals to 36 units/10(8) cells. Density distribution analysis of the cells shows that the highest activity is observed in the low-density fraction. From these experimental data we conclude that in the fractions containing precursor T-cells, a reduced number of proliferating cells is present.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow / enzymology*
  • Bone Marrow Cells
  • DNA Nucleotidylexotransferase / metabolism*
  • DNA Nucleotidyltransferases / metabolism*
  • DNA Polymerase II / metabolism*
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice


  • DNA Nucleotidyltransferases
  • DNA Nucleotidylexotransferase
  • DNA Polymerase II
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase