The initial rate of thymidine-3H incorporation into the acid-soluble pool by cultured Novikoff rat hepatoma cells was investigated as a function of the thymidine concentration in the medium. Below, but not above 2 µM, thymidine incorporation followed normal Michaelis-Menten kinetics at 22°, 27°, 32°, and 37°C with an apparent Km of 0.5 µM, and the Vmax values increased with an average Q10 of 1.8 with an increase in temperature. The intracellular acid-soluble 3H was associated solely with thymine nucleotides (mainly deoxythymidine triphosphate [dTTP]). Between 2 and 200 µM, on the other hand, the initial rate of thymidine incorporation increased linearly with an increase in thymidine concentration in the medium and was about the same at all four temperatures. Pretreatment of the cells with 40 or 100 µM p-chloromercuribenzoate for 15 min or heat-shock (49.5°C, 5 min) markedly reduced the saturable component of uptake without affecting the unsaturable component or the phosphorylation of thymidine. The effect of p-chloromercuribenzoate was readily reversed by incubating the cells in the presence of dithiothreitol. Persantin and uridine competitively inhibited thymidine incorporation into the acid-soluble pool without inhibiting thymidine phosphorylation. At concentrations below 2 µM, thymidine incorporation into DNA also followed normal Michaelis-Menten kinetics and was inhibited in an apparently competitive manner by Persantin and uridine. The apparent Km and Ki values were about the same as those for thymidine incorporation into the nucleotide pool. The over-all results indicate that uptake is the rate-limiting step in the incorporation of thymidine into the nucleotide pool as well as into DNA. The cells possess an excess of thymidine kinase, and thymidine is phosphorylated as rapidly as it enters the cells and is thereby trapped. At low concentrations, thymidine is taken up mainly by a transport reaction, whereas at concentrations above 2 µM simple diffusion becomes the principal mode of uptake. Evidence is presented that indicates that uridine and thymidine are transported by different systems. Upon inhibition of DNA synthesis, net thymidine incorporation into the acid-soluble pool ceased rapidly. Results from pulse-chase experiments indicate that a rapid turnover of dTTP to thymidine may be involved in limiting the level of thymine nucleotides in the cell.

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