Patterns of radioisotope incorporation are useful characteristics in describing cellular RNA fractions, and have indicated a distinctive "nuclear" RNA.
In order to characterize the RNA fractions of the two nuclear components, nucleoli and chromatin, and to determine thereby the precise localization of the RNA typical of isolated nuclei, time-courses of P32 incorporation into nucleolar, chromosomal, and cytoplasmic RNA of Drosophila salivary glands have been determined from autoradiograms. Two experiments are reported which cover 12 and 18 hour periods, including an initial 2 hour feeding on P32. Concentrations of RNA-P32 (identified by ribonuclease digestion) were determined by grain counts.
After 1 hour only the nucleolar RNA is labelled. Activity is detectible in chromosomal and cytoplasmic RNA after the 2nd hour. The nucleolar fraction reaches its maximum activity shortly after transfer of the larvae to non-radioactive food, the other fractions several hours later. Maximum activities persist in the chromosomal and cytoplasmic fractions; nucleolar activity decreases after the 9th hour.
The observed differences in times at which incorporation begins and maximum activities are reached, and in maintenance of maximum activities indicate that chromosomal and nucleolar RNA are distinct fractions. The metabolic characteristics which have been ascribed to "nuclear" RNA apply only to the nucleolar fraction.