The proteolytic activity of dilute solutions of clystalline trypsin is destroyed by x-rays, the amount of inactivation being an exponential function of the radiation dose. The reaction yield increases steadily with increasing concentration of trypsin, varying, as the concentration of enzyme is increased from 1 to 300 µM, from 0.068 to 0.958 micromole of trypsin per liter inactivated per 1000 r with 0.005 N hydrochloric acid as the solvent, from 0.273 to 0.866 with 0.005 N sulfuric acid as the solvent, and from 0.343 to 0.844 with 0.005 N nitric acid as the solvent. When the reaction yields are plotted as a function of the initial concentration of trypsin, they fall on a curve given by the expression Y α XK, in which Y is the reaction yield, X is the concentration of trypsin, and K is a constant equal to 0.46, 0.20, and 0.16, respectively, with 0.005 N hydrochloric, sulfuric, and nitric acids as solvents. The differences between the reaction yields found with chloride and sulfate ions in I to 10 µM trypsin solutions are significant only in the pH range from 2 to 4.

The amount of inactivation obtained with a given dose of x-rays depends on the pH of the solution being irradiated and the nature of the solvent. The reaction yield-pH curve is a symmetrical one, with minimum yields at about pH 7. Buffers such as acetate, citrate, borate and barbiturate, and other organic molecules such as ethanol and glucose, in concentrations as low as 20 µM, inhibit the inactivation of trypsin by x-radiation. Sigmoid inactivation-dose curves instead of exponential ones are obtained in the presence of ethanol.

The reaction yields for the inactivation of trypsin solutions by x-rays are approximately 1.5 times greater when the irradiation is done at 26°C. than when it is done at 5°C., when 0.005 N hydrochloric acid is the solvent. The dependence on temperature is less when 0.005 N sulfuric acid is used, and is negligible with 0.005 N nitric acid.

The difficulties involved in interpreting radiation effects in aqueous systems, and in comparing the results obtained under different experimental conditions, are discussed.

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