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Abstract

Recent studies using anion exclusion chromatography have suggested that uracil is misincorporated into the DNA of patients with megaloblastic anemia to levels detectable by nonradioactive methods. We have investigated the nucleotide composition of DNA from the bone marrow mononuclear cells of eight patients with cobalamin deficiency and compared this with that found in normal subjects. The median level of uracil in the megaloblastic group was 0.082 mol% of cytosine (approx. 0.02 mol% of all bases in DNA), which was similar to that found in the control group (median 0.085 mol% of cytosine) and may be attributable, at least in part, to artefactual deamination of deoxycytidine monophosphate during the DNA hydrolysis. Our findings give no support for the view that, by overwhelming the uracil N-glycosidase mechanism, the degree of uracil misincorporation in megaloblastic anemia is sufficient to increase the steady state level of uracil in the DNA by amounts detectable by nonradioactive methods. Using high performance liquid chromatography, we have also demonstrated normal levels of methylcytosine in the DNA of megaloblastic subjects.