Polyribosomes, ribosomes, and ribosomal subunits were prepared from rat liver using sodium deoxycholate and a variety of ionic media. They were examined in the electron microscope, mainly as negatively or positively stained preparations, and in the analytical ultracentrifuge. The polyribosomes consist of up to twelve or more ribosomes linked by a fine strand, 10 to 15 A in diameter, probably of RNA. The ribosomes are approximately spherical with diameters of 250 to 300 A, and are estimated to be about 50 per cent porous. Possibly because of their high protein content, whole ribosomes show no cleavage furrows. Ribosomes were dissociated in phosphate buffer and the subunits separated on sucrose density gradients containing 10 per cent formalin. Three classes of subunit were obtained with sedimentation coefficients of 71S, 50S, and 31S respectively. The smallest, 31S subunit is about 250 A long by 100 A wide. The largest subunits appear to be clusters of smaller particles. It is estimated from their linear dimensions in electron micrographs that the whole 83S ribosome could contain up to six 31S subunits, or their equivalent.

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