The effect of cycloheximide upon protein synthesis, RNA metabolism, and polyribosome stability was investigated in the parent and in two temperature-sensitive mutant yeast strains defective respectively in the initiation of polypeptide chains and in messenger RNA synthesis. Cycloheximide at high concentrations (100 μg/ml) severely inhibits but does not completely stop protein synthesis (Fig. 1); the incorporation of 14C-amino acids into polyribosome-associated nascent polypeptide chains continues at a slow but measurable rate (Figs. 2 and 3). Polyribosome structures are stable in the parent strain at 36° whether or not cycloheximide is present (Fig. 5). However, in Mutant ts- 136, a mutant defective in messenger as well as in stable RNA production, polyribosomes decay at the restrictive temperature (36° C) at the same rate whether or not cycloheximide is present (Fig. 5). Thus the maintenance of polyribosome structures is dependent upon the continued synthesis of messenger RNA even under conditions of extremely slow polypeptide chain elongation. In mutant ts- 187, a mutant defective in the initiation of polypeptide chains, all of the polyribosomes decay to monoribosomes within 2 minutes after a shift to the restrictive temperature; cycloheximide completely prevents this decay demonstrating that this mutant is capable of continued messenger RNA synthesis at 36° C. Consistent with these observations is the fact that a newly synthesized heterogeneously sedimenting RNA fraction continues to enter polyribosomes in the presence of cycloheximide whereas the entrance of newly synthesized ribosomal RNA is severely inhibited (Figs. 7, 8, 9). The decay or lack of decay of polyribosomes at the restrictive temperature is, therefore, a rapid and discriminating test for the analysis of mutants defective in macromolecule synthesis. Mutants which exhibit a decay of polyribosomes in the presence of cycloheximide are likely to be defective directly or indirectly in the synthesis of messenger RNA whereas mutants in which decay is prevented or slowed by cycloheximide are likely to be defective in some factor required for the association of ribosomes and messenger RNA.
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