Cytoplasmic extracts of the transplantable RPC-20 plasma-cell tumor were fractionated by sucrose density gradient centrifugation. Four major fractions were distinguished: (a) microsomes and mitochondria; (b) membrane-free polyribosomes; (c) free monomeric ribosomes; and (d) soluble fraction. The fractions were analyzed for RNA and lipid phosphorus, and their particulate components were characterized by electron microscopy. Particular attention was paid to the problem of membrane contamination of the free polyribosome fraction. It was shown that this contamination was small in relation with the total content of ribosomes in the fraction, and that it consisted primarily of smooth-surfaced membranes which were not physically associated with the polyribosomes themselves. In vivo incorporation studies were carried out by injecting tumor-bearing animals intravenously with leucine-C14, removing the tumors at various times thereafter, and determining the distribution of protein radioactivity among the gradient-separated cytoplasmic fractions. The free polyribosome and the microsome-mitochondria fractions constituted active centers for protein synthesis. It was shown that nascent protein of the free polyribosome fractions was not associated significantly with the contaminating membranes. The kinetics of labeling during incorporation times up to 11 min suggested that protein synthesized on the free polyribosomes was rapidly transferred in vivo to the soluble fraction of the cell, while protein synthesized by the microsomes and mitochondria remained localized within these elements. It was estimated that the free polyribosome fraction and the microsome-mitochondria fraction accounted for approximately equal proportions of the total cytoplasmic protein synthesis in vivo.

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