A procedure is described for the purification of salmon testis deoxyribonuclease II by means of acid extraction, fractional precipitation with ammonium sulfate, heat denaturation of extraneous proteins, and ethanol fractionation. This process separates the deoxyribonuclease activity from that of ribonuclease, phosphatase, phosphodiesterase, and protease. Over 50 per cent of the activity is retained with an over-all enrichment of 20,000-fold. The enzyme degrades both native and heat-denatured DNA, but the rate of degradation of the latter is only one-tenth that of the former. It does not hydrolyze apurinic acid.
The enzyme is most stable in the pH range 4 to 5. Electrolytes are essential for the expression of its activity: monovalent ions satisfy the requirement, but divalent ones are much more effective. Above a certain optimum concentration, each electrolyte is inhibitory. The pH of maximal activity, under conditions of optimal ionic strength, is 4.8; the temperature optimum is near to 55°C.