The effect of selective inhibition of mitochondrial protein synthesis by chloramphenicol at 40 or 200 µg/ml on the formation of mitochondria in HeLa cells was investigated. HeLa cells, under the conditions used in the present work, grow at a decreasing rate for at least four cell generations in the presence of 40 µg/ml chloramphenicol, and for two generations in the presence of 200 µg/ml chloramphenicol. The progressive cell growth inhibition which begins after 2 days of exposure of the cells to 40 µg/ml chloramphenicol is immediately or gradually reversible, upon removal of the drug, for periods up to at least 8 days of treatment, though there is a progressive loss of cloning efficiency. In cells which have been treated for 6–7 days with 40 or 200 µg/ml of chloramphenicol, mitochondrial protein synthesis occurs at a normal or near-normal rate 1 h after removal of the drug. Mitochondria increase normally in number and show a normal size and amount of cristae in the presence of either concentration of drug. However, in 4–5% of the mitochondrial profiles the cristae appear to be arranged in unusual, circular, looped or whorled configuration.

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