The renewal of glycerol in the visual cells and pigment epithelium of the frog retina was studied by autoradiographic analysis of animals injected with [2-3H]glycerol. Assay of chloroform:methanol extracts showed that the labeled precursor was used mainly in lipid synthesis, although there was also some utilization in the formation of protein. Radioactive glycerol was initially concentrated in the myoid portion of rods and cones, indicating that this is the site of phospholipid synthesis in visual cells. The glycogen bodies (paraboloids) of accessory cones were also heavily labeled, suggesting the diversion of some glycerol into glycogenic pathways. In the pigment epithelium, only the oil droplets became significantly radioactive. The outer plexiform layer (which contains the visual cell synaptic bodies) and the cone oil droplets gradually accumulated considerable amounts of labeled material. Within 1–4 h, labeled molecules began to appear in the visual cell outer segments, evidently having been transported there from the myoid portion of the inner segment. Most of these were phospholipid molecules which became distributed throughout the outer segments, presumably replacing comparable constituents in existing membranes. In rods only, there was also an aggregation of labeled material at the base of the outer segment due to membrane biogenesis. These highly radioactive membranes, containing labeled molecules of lipid and protein, were subsequently displaced along the rod outer segments due to repeated membrane assembly at the base. The distribution of radioactivity supported the conclusion that membrane renewal by molecular replacement is more rapid for lipid than it is for protein.

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