The kinetics of accumulation of radioactive adenosine in adenosine triphosphate and in RNA of nuclear, cytoplasmic, and polysomal fractions of sea urchin embryos have been analyzed. 85% of the RNA synthesized decays in the nucleus with an apparently uniform half-life of about 7 min. The remaining 15% goes to the cytoplasm, mostly entering polysomes, and decays with a quite uniform half-life of about 75 min. The nuclear RNA accounts for one-third and the cytoplasmic RNA accounts for two-thirds of the total unstable RNA which accumulates at steady state in the embryo. The size distribution of short-labeled nuclear RNA is very similar to that of long-labeled messenger RNA, when both are extracted directly from the cells without a previous cell fractionation.

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