In a medium of high ionic strength, rat liver rough microsomes can be nondestructively disassembled into ribosomes and stripped membranes if nascent polypeptides are discharged from the bound ribosomes by reaction with puromycin. At 750 mM KCl, 5 mM MgCl2, 50 mM Tris·HCl, pH 7 5, up to 85% of all bound ribosomes are released from the membranes after incubation at room temperature with 1 mM puromycin. The ribosomes are released as subunits which are active in peptide synthesis if programmed with polyuridylic acid. The ribosome-denuded, or stripped, rough microsomes (RM) can be recovered as intact, essentially unaltered membranous vesicles Judging from the incorporation of [3H]puromycin into hot acid-insoluble material and from the release of [3H]leucine-labeled nascent polypeptide chains from bound ribosomes, puromycin coupling occurs almost as well at low (25–100 mM) as at high (500–1000 mM) KCl concentrations. Since puromycin-dependent ribosome release only occurs at high ionic strength, it appears that ribosomes are bound to membranes via two types of interactions: a direct one between the membrane and the large ribosomal subunit (labile at high KCl concentration) and an indirect one in which the nascent chain anchors the ribosome to the membrane (puromycin labile). The nascent chains of ribosomes specifically released by puromycin remain tightly associated with the stripped membranes. Some membrane-bound ribosomes (up to 40%) can be nondestructively released in high ionic strength media without puromycin; these appear to consist of a mixture of inactive ribosomes and ribosomes containing relatively short nascent chains. A fraction (∼15%) of the bound ribosomes can only be released from membranes by exposure of RM to ionic conditions which cause extensive unfolding of ribosomal subunits, the nature and significance of these ribosomes is not clear.

This content is only available as a PDF.