The synthesis, intracellular transport, storage, and discharge of secretory proteins in and from the pancreatic exocrine cell of the guinea pig were studied by light- and electron microscopical autoradiography using DL-leucine-4,5-H3 as label. Control experiments were carried out to determine: (a) the length of the label pulse in the blood and tissue after intravenous injections of leucine-H3; (b) the amount and nature of label lost during tissue fixation, dehydration, and embedding. The results indicate that leucine-H3 can be used as a label for newly synthesized secretory proteins and as a tracer for their intracellular movements. The autoradiographic observations show that, at ∼5 minutes after injection, the label is localized mostly in cell regions occupied by rough surfaced elements of the endoplasmic reticulum; at ∼20 minutes, it appears in elements of the Golgi complex; and after 1 hour, in zymogen granules. The evidence conclusively shows that the zymogen granules are formed in the Golgi region by a progressive concentration of secretory products within large condensing vacuoles. The findings are compatible with an early transfer of label from the rough surfaced endoplasmic reticulum to the Golgi complex, and suggest the existence of two distinct steps in the transit of secretory proteins through the latter. The first is connected with small, smooth surfaced vesicles situated at the periphery of the complex, and the second with centrally located condensing vacuoles.

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