Lead acetate treatment of unfixed cells immobilizes the intracellular water-soluble, inorganic orthophosphate ions as microcrystalline lead hydroxyapatite precipitates (see reference 1). These precipitates have been analyzed with the electron microprobe. A much higher concentration of phosphorus has been found in the nucleoli of maize root tip cells fixed in lead acetate-glutaraldehyde (organic phosphorus plus inorganic orthophosphate), as compared to the nucleoli of roots fixed in glutaraldehyde alone (organic phosphorus). The concentration of the inorganic orthophosphate pool in these nucleoli is three to five times as high as the concentration of the macromolecular organic phosphate. Since nearly all of the latter is in RNA, the concentration of inorganic phosphate in the nucleolus is calculated to be roughly 0.5–0.8 M. About 30%—and up to 50%—of the total cellular inorganic phosphate is accumulated in the nucleolus since the mean concentration per cell is about 10-2 M. In the extranucleolar part of the nucleus the mean concentration was estimated by densitometry to be roughly six times less than in the nucleolus (⩽ 0.1 M), and appears more concentrated in the nucleoplasm than in the condensed chromatin. While there is no direct evidence for the concentration in the cytoplasm, it certainly must be much lower than the mean cellular level (i.e., < 10-2 M) since the nucleus is about 10% of the total cell volume. The implications of this compartmentation in the intact cell are discussed in connection with (A) the availability of orthophosphate ions for the cytoplasm in those processes in which these ions affect the rate of enzymatic reactions, and (B) protein nucleic acid interactions within the nucleus and nucleolus.

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