A single dose of erythropoietin stimulates DNA synthesis in the spleen of the polycythemic mouse with the maximum effect occurring 48 h after the hormone is administered. The increase in DNA synthesis is accompanied by morphologic evidence of increased erythropoiesis and by increases in the activities per cell of both thymidine kinase and cytoplasmic high molecular weight DNA polymerase-α. The activity of low molecular weight DNA polymerase-β does not change significantly. Spleen cells from mice which had received either erythropoietin or saline 48 h previously were separated into 7 density classes on discontinuous bovine serum albumin gradients. Following the administration of erythropoietin, thymidine incorporation and thymidine kinase activity showed the greatest relative increases per nucleated cell in layers 3, 4 and 5 of the gradient. DNA polymerase-α showed the greatest increase in cells of the denser layers 5, 6 and 7. Each layer contained normoblasts and lymphocytes. The less well differentiated erythroid elements constituted a larger proportion of cells in layers of lower density. Increases in the rates of thymidine incorporation were better correlated with increases in thymidine kinase activity than with increases in DNA polymerase activities. Measurement of iron incorporation into heme confirm the morphological impression that the cell type responsible for increased thymidine incorporation and increased DNA polymerase-α activity is the young normblast.
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