The effects of temporary glutamine deficiency on the protein and nucleic acid metabolism of Chang's liver cells in suspension cultures have been studied. It was observed that cells maintained in a glutamine-free medium showed a reduced incorporation of labeled precursors into protein and RNA. At the same time, the activity of the ribosomes and the proportion of polyribosomal aggregates in cell extracts diminished. These effects were reversed when the glutamine content of the medium was restored. The restoration of a normal rate of amino acid incorporation by intact cells as well as by cell-free systems was time dependent, and took place within a few hours after glutamine addition without preceding increase in the prevailing low rate of RNA synthesis. The addition of actinomycin D at concentrations that strongly inhibited the RNA metabolism of the cells did not prevent the increase in protein synthesis or the reappearance of polyribosomal aggregates. These facts suggest that the restoration of protein synthesis in the cells after glutamine starvation was not dependent on a production of new messenger RNA. The experimental data are consistent with the hypothesis that previously synthesized messenger RNA, preserved in the cells in a stable form, was brought into action in response to the reestablishment of an adequate cellular environment.

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