The distribution of glucose-6-phosphatase activity in rat hepatocytes during a period of rapid endoplasmic reticulum differentiation (4 days before birth-1 day after birth) was studied by electron microscope cytochemistry. Techniques were devised to insure adequate morphological preservation, retain glucose-6-phosphatase activity, and control some other possible artifacts. At all stages examined the lead phosphate deposited by the cytochemical reaction is localized to the endoplasmic reticulum and the nuclear envelope. At 4 days before birth, when the enzyme specific activity is only a few per cent of the adult level, the lead deposit is present in only a few hepatocytes. In these cells a light deposit is seen throughout the entire rough-surfaced endoplasmic reticulum. At birth, when the specific activity of glucose-6-phosphatase is approximately equal to that of the adult, nearly all cells show a positive reaction for the enzyme and, again, the deposit is evenly distributed throughout the entire endoplasmic reticulum. By 24 hr postparturition all of the rough endoplasmic reticulum, and in addition the newly formed smooth endoplasmic reticulum, contains heavy lead deposits; enzyme activity at this stage is 250% of the adult level. These findings indicate that glucose-6-phosphatase develops simultaneously within all of the rough endoplasmic reticulum membranes of a given cell, although asynchronously in the hepatocyte population as a whole. In addition, the enzyme appears throughout the entire smooth endoplasmic reticulum as the membranes form during the first 24 hr after birth. The results suggest a lack of differentiation within the endoplasmic reticulum with respect to the distribution of glucose-6-phosphatase at the present level of resolution.

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