The effect of protein synthesis inhibition by cycloheximide on nucleolar RNA synthesis and processing has been studied in HeLa cells. Synthesis of 45S RNA precursor falls rapidly after administration of the drug. However, the nucleolar content of 45S RNA remains relatively constant for at least 1 hr because the time required for cleavage of the precursor molecule into its products is lengthened after treatment with cycloheximide. The efficiency of transformation of 45S RNA to 32S RNA remains constant with approximately one molecule of the 32S RNA produced for each cleavage of a molecule of 45S RNA. However, shortly after the cessation of protein synthesis the formation of 18S RNA becomes abortive. The amount of 32S RNA present in the nucleolus remains relatively constant. After long periods of protein synthesis inhibition the 28S RNA continues to be synthesized and exported to the cytoplasm but at a greatly reduced rate. When the protein synthesis inhibitor is removed, a prompt, although partial, recovery in the synthesis rate of 45S RNA occurs. The various aspects of RNA synthesis regulation and processing are discussed.

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