Ribosomes of all eukaryotes contain a single molecule of 5S, 18S, and 28S RNA. In the frog Xenopus laevis the genes which code for 18S and 28S RNA are located in the nucleolar organizer, but these genes are not linked to the 5S RNA genes. Therefore the synthesis of the three ribosomal RNAs provides a model system for studying interchromosomal aspects of gene regulation. In order to determine if the synthesis of the three ribosomal RNAs are interdependent, the relative rate of 5S RNA synthesis was measured in anucleolate mutants (o/o), which do not synthesize any 18S or 28S RNA, and in partial nucleolate mutants (pl-1/o), which synthesize 18S and 28S RNA at 25% of the normal rate. Since the o/o and pl-1/o mutants have a complete and partial deletion of 18S and 28S RNA genes respectively, but the normal number of 5S RNA genes, they provide a unique system in which to study the dependence of 5S RNA synthesis on the synthesis of 18S and 28S RNA. Total RNA was extracted from embryos labeled during different stages of development and analyzed by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Quite unexpectedly it was found that 5S RNA synthesis in o/o and pl-1/o mutants proceeds at the same rate as it does in normal embryos. Furthermore, 5S RNA synthesis is initiated normally at gastrulation in o/o mutants in the complete absence of 18S and 28S RNA synthesis.

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