Elastin fibers in the aortas of control, lathyritic, copper-supplemented, and copper-deficient chicks were examined histochemically and chemically for aldehyde content. Diminished staining for aldehydes was obtained in the fibers from the aortas of lathyritic and copper-deficient chicks. Chemical studies of elastin isolated from the aortas of control and lathyritic chicks showed an apparent loss of lysine residues in control elastin to be associated with an increase in aldehyde content providing evidence that lysine is converted to an aldehyde-containing intermediate during biosynthesis of desmosine and isodesmosine. Approximately 6 aldehyde groups were present for every 1000 amino acids in elastin isolated from the aortas of control animals, while the corresponding number in lathyritic elastin was 4. At least two types of aldehydes, saturated and α,ß-unsaturated, appear to be associated with elastin, suggesting the presence of more than one intermediate between lysine and the desmosines.

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