Microsomes from embryonic cartilage have been subfractionated to yield smooth microsomes and rough microsomes. The in vitro enzymic activities involved in chondroitin sulfate biosynthesis have been assayed in these subfractions. The results demonstrate that all of the activities necessary for linkage to protein as well as for completion of the polysaccharide chain are present in both the rough and smooth fractions. Only in the case of the polymerization of N-acetylgalactosamine and glucuronic acid could enzyme assays be done independent of endogenous acceptor. This enzyme(s) was equally distributed between the rough and smooth fractions. The activities for the addition of xylose and galactose to protein were highest in the rough fraction while that for sulfation was highest in the smooth fraction. These findings suggest that polysaccharide chain-initiation occurs in the rough endoplasmic reticulum and that chain completion occurs in the smooth reticulum. This pattern is consistent with modern theories of synthesis, transfer, and export of extracellular macromolecules.

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