The relationship of the DNA sequences from which polyribosomal messenger RNA (mRNA) and heterogeneous nuclear RNA (NRNA) of mouse L cells are transcribed was investigated by means of hybridization kinetics and thermal denaturation of the hybrids. Hybridization was performed in formamide solutions at DNA excess. Under these conditions most of the hybridizing mRNA and NRNA react at values of Dot (DNA concentration multiplied by time) expected for RNA transcribed from the nonrepeated or rarely repeated fraction of the genome. However, a fraction of both mRNA and NRNA hybridize at values of Dot about 10,000 times lower, and therefore must be transcribed from highly redundant DNA sequences. The fraction of NRNA hybridizing to highly repeated sequences is about 1.7 times greater than the corresponding fraction of mRNA. The hybrids formed by the rapidly reacting fractions of both NRNA and mRNA melt over a narrow temperature range with a midpoint about 11°C below that of native L cell DNA. This indicates that these hybrids consist of partially complementary sequences with approximately 11% mismatching of bases. Hybrids formed by the slowly reacting fraction of NRNA melt within 4°–6°C of native DNA, indicating very little, if any, mismatching of bases. Hybrids of the slowly reacting components of mRNA, formed under conditions of sufficiently low RNA input, have a high thermal stability, similar to that observed for hybrids of the slowly reacting NRNA component. However, when higher inputs of mRNA are used, hybrids are formed which have a strikingly lower thermal stability. This observation can be explained by assuming that there is sufficient similarity among the relatively rare DNA sequences coding for mRNA so that under hybridization conditions, in which these DNA sequences are not truly in excess, reversible hybrids exhibiting a considerable amount of mispairing are formed. The fact that a comparable phenomenon has not been observed for NRNA may mean that there is less similarity among the relatively rare DNA sequences coding for NRNA than there is among the rare sequences coding for mRNA.

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