Glycoprotein mRNA (G mRNA) of vesicular stomatitis virus is synthesized in the cytosol fraction of infected HeLa cells. Shortly after synthesis, this mRNA associates with 40S ribosomal subunits and subsequently forms 80S monosomes in the cytosol fraction. The bulk of labeled G mRNA is then found in polysomes associated with the membrane, without first appearing in the subunit or monomer pool of the membrane-bound fraction. Inhibition of the initiation of protein synthesis by pactamycin or muconomycin A blocks entry of newly synthesized G m RNA into membrane-bound polysomes. Under these circumstances, labeled G mRNA accumulates into the cytosol. Inhibition of the elongation of protein synthesis by cucloheximide, however, allows entry of 60 percent of newly synthesized G mRNA into membrane-bound polysomes. Furthermore, prelabeled G mRNA associated with membrane-bound polysomes is released from the membrane fraction in vivo by pactamycin or mucomycon A and in vitro by 1mM puromycin - 0.5 M KCI. This release is not due to nonspecific effects of the drugs. These results demonstrate that association of G mRNA with membrane-bound polysomes is dependent upon polysome formation and initiation of protein synthesis. Therefore, direct association of the 3' end of G mRNA with the membrane does not appear to be the initial event in the formation of membrane-bound polysomes.

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