Succinic dehydrogenase and cytochrome oxidase have been assayed in permanent cell lines (HEP 1, HEP 2, and HLM), in short-term cultures of chick embryo heart cells, and in various tissues. Their activities in different cells are compared by relating them to deoxyribonucleic acid. They are very low in HEP 1, HEP 2, and HLM cells by comparison with the activities in any normal tissues examined. All the succinic dehydrogenase was shown to be located in the mitochondria of the permanent cell lines by staining with tetrazolium derivatives. Both enzymes were more active in tissues of 19-day chick embryos than in those of 11- or 14-day embryos. The increasing activities found during normal development were quickly curtailed or reversed when heart cells were grown as monolayer cultures.
Digitonin-treated mitochondria produced preparations with much higher activities of cytochrome oxidase than untreated samples. Activities measured in this way were again very much lower in HEP 1, HEP 2, and HLM cells than in the normal tissues. From the derived ratio of cytochrome oxidase:succinic dehydrogenase, it was apparent that cytochrome oxidase is diminished to a greater extent than succinic dehydrogenase in both permanent cell lines and short-term cultures, by comparison with the corresponding activities in embryonic and adult tissues. The features common to the metabolism of proliferating cells in vitro and malignant cells are discussed.