This report provides information on the morphology of rat intestinal epithelial cells during fat absorption. In addition, the role of protein metabolism in this process has been evaluated by blocking its synthesis with puromycin and studying the fine structure of mucosal cells from rats at various times after fat intubation. The results indicate that SER-derived vesicles, containing fat droplets, migrate from the apical cytoplasm of the absorptive cell and fuse with saccules or vacuoles of the Golgi complex. Arguments are made that the Golgi complex is important in completing chylomicron formation and in providing appropriate enveloping membranes for the chylomicron. Such membranes may be necessary for Golgi vacuoles to fuse with the lateral cell membranes and release chylomicra. Puromycin treatment causes the absorptive cell to accumulate increased quantities of lipid that are devoid of membrane during fat absorption. In addition, puromycin-treated cells contain much less RER and Golgi membranes are strikingly decreased in number. In this paper we discuss the consequences of these abnormalities and suggest that continued protein synthesis by the RER is required in order to generate Golgi membranes. If such membranes are absent the cell's ability to discarge chylomicra is impaired and lipid accumulates.

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