Turnover studies of the surface membrane and of cell particulate matter of L cells in tissue culture in logarithmic and plateau phase of growth have been made. The rate of incorporation of isotope into these fractions and the rate of fall of specific activities of labeled L-cell fractions have been observed. The following interpretation of the data appears most likely although other interpretations are possible. Growing and nongrowing cells synthesize approximately similar amounts of surface membrane and particulate material. In the growing cell the material is incorporated with net increases in substance. There is relatively little turnover. In the nongrowing cell newly synthesized material is incorporated, but a corresponding amount of material is eliminated so that there is turnover without net increase of substance. Our results suggest that there is no gross differential turnover between the protein, lipid, and carbohydrate of the surface membrane under the conditions of our experiments. Metabolic inhibitors or omission of amino acids in the culture medium lead to a decrease in synthesis of surface membrane and cell particulates and cause an equivalent decrease in the rate of degradation of surface membrane and of particulates; therefore the synthetic and degradative aspects of turnover appear to be coupled. As cultures of nongrowing cells in suspension or on a glass surface age, their synthetic and turnover capacities diminish. Our results suggest that the cell may exist in a nongrowing state with a level of synthesis similar to that of a growing cell. It can exist in this state with a high level of turnover.

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