The ultrastructural localization of D-amino acid oxidase (DAO) was studied cytochemically by detecting sites of hydrogen peroxide production in human polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs). Reaction product, which forms when cerous ions react with H2O2 to form an electron-dense precipitate, was demonstrated on the cell surface and within the phagosomes of phagocytically stimulated cells when D-amino acids were provided as substrate. Resting cells showed only slight activity. The competitive inhibitor D,L-2-hydroxybutyrate greatly reduced the D-amino acid-stimulated reaction while KCN did not. The cell surface reaction was abolished by nonpenetrating inhibitors of enzyme activity while that within the phagosome was not eliminated. Dense accumulations of reaction product were formed in cells which phagocytosed Staphylococcus aureus in the absence of exogenous substrate. No reaction product formed with Proteus vulgaris while an intermediate amount formed when Escherichia coli were phagocytosed. Variation in the amount of reaction product with the different bacteria correlated with the levels of D-amino acids in the bacterial cell walls which are available for the DAO of PMNs. An alternative approach utilizing ferricyanide as an electron acceptor was also used. This technique verified the results obtained with the cerium reaction, i.e., the DAO is located in the cell surface and is internalized during phagocytosis and is capable of H2O2 production within the phagosome. The present finding that DAO is localized on the cell surface further supports the concept that the plasma membrane is involved in peroxide formation in PMNs.

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