Two isozymes of aspartate aminotransferase have been demonstrated biochemically. One isozyme is found in the mitochondrial fraction of the cytoplasm, the other ("soluble") in the supernatant. Both isozymes can be demonstrated by the cytochemical technique of Lee and Torack, as reported in the preceding report. Aldehyde fixation rapidly inactivates both isozymes, especially the soluble one. Inactivation can be delayed by addition of ketoglutarate to the fixative. The ketoglutarate probably competes with the fixative for the active site of the enzyme, thus protecting that region of the molecule. This enables adequate tissue preservation with enough remaining enzymatic activity to be demonstrated by the precipitation of oxaloacetate as the lead salt from a medium containing α-ketoglutaric acid aspartic acid, and lead nitrate. Electron-opaque material was found not only in mitochondria but, as the result of substrate protection, on the plasma membranes of many cells including erythrocytes and bacteria, the limiting membrane of peroxisomes, and the transverse tubular system of striated muscle. Occasional centrioles, neurotubules, tubules in the tails of spermatozoa, the A-I band junction in myofibrils of striated muscle, and the ground substance between cisternae of endoplasmic reticulum in intestinal goblet cells also showed precipitate. In all cases, replacement of L-aspartic acid by D-aspartic acid in the medium resulted in unstained sections. The sensitivity of extramitochondrial sites to fixation, the need of ketoglutarate as an agent for protecting the enzymatic activity during the fixation process, and the known presence of only soluble isozyme in erythrocytes indicate that enzymatic activity at these sites can be attributed to the soluble isozyme. Localization of the soluble isozyme on the plasma membrane may be related to possible involvement in depolarization phenomena, amino acid transport, or synthesis of plasma membrane-bound mucopolysaccharides.

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