The synthesis of keratin proteins during development of the embryonic chick feather was studied by quantitative gel electrophoresis of the reduced and carboxymethylated proteins. The results demonstrated a coordinated synthesis of the major keratin proteins, during and after the onset of keratin synthesis. The results from gel electrophoresis correlated well with electron microscope visualization or keratin fibrils in the developing feathers. Autoradiography at the electron microscope level indicated that the feather cells lose the ability to synthesize DNA before keratin synthesis begins, but retain the ability to synthesize RNA after keratin synthesis begins.

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