The distribution of terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT) peaks I and II, in single cell suspensions of thymuses, bone marrow, and peripheral lymphoid organs fractionated in discontinuous bovine serum albumin gradients, was examined in a variety of mouse strains and Fischer 344 rats to relate the normal patterns of thymocyte differentiation to the leukemic process.

TdT peaks I and II were found in fractions A (10 to 23%), B (23 to 26%), and C (26 to 29%) of the thymus of both normal and leukemic C57BL/6 mice, whereas only peak I was found in the same fractions of AKR mice. TdT in bone marrow was found mainly in fraction A in both normal and leukemic mice. The specific activity of TdT in this fraction, which comprises only 1 to 5% of the total bone marrow cell population, was similar to that of the thymus. The cell population of fraction A of the bone marrow was found to increase (10 to 15-fold) in leukemic mice. Only low levels of TdT activity were found in either whole or fractionated bone marrow of athymic NIH Swiss (nu/nu) mice.

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This work was supported by the National Cancer Institute under Contract NO1-CO-25423 with Litton Bionetics, Inc.

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