Rough microsomes from the livers of adult, phenobarbital-treated, and newborn rats were subfractionated on a continuous sucrose gradient. Among the subfractions a marked heterogeneity in the distribution patterns of some enzyme activities appears. The isopycnic density of the various fractions in aqueous sucrose ranges from 1.17 to 1.25. The sedimentation coefficients (s0) in 0.25 M sucrose lie between 0.4 x 103 S and 1.2 x 103 S. In adult animals, the NADH- and NADPH-cytochrome c reductase as well as the G6Pase activities are much higher in the slower sedimenting fractions than in the pellet. The increase in the level of G6Pase induced by fasting as well as the phenobarbital-induced changes are most prominent in the slowly sedimenting fractions. Three injections of phenobarbital have no effect on the specific NADPH-cytochrome c reductase activity in the pellet, but cause a significant increase of this enzyme activity in the light fractions. In the newborn animal, the NADH-ferricyanide reductase and NADPH-cytochrome c reductase activities are highest in the light fractions. On the other hand, the amount of cytochrome b5 is evenly distributed in all cases. Short-term incorporation of leucine-14C and glycerol-3H in vivo after phenobarbital treatment shows contrasting results, as the former is increased and the latter is decreased in the slowly sedimenting fractions. Leucine-14C incorporation into isolated, total membrane proteins is greater in both phenobarbital-treated and newborn animals than in untreated adults. The data support a multistep model for membrane biogenesis and indicate dynamic and individual behavior of the different parts of the rough-surfaced endoplasmic reticulum.

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