The synthesis of the major chloroplast membrane polypeptides has been studied during synchronous growth of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Under these conditions, chlorophyll is synthesized during the latter part of the light period and cell division takes place during the dark period. The profile of the chloroplast membrane polypeptides of C. reinhardtii has been well characterized and shown to contain two major classes by size (Hoober, J. 1970. J. Biol. Chem. 245:4327). Polypeptides of group I have a mol wt range of 50,000–55,000 daltons. The second region consists of at least three polypeptide groups, IIa, IIb, and IIc, having mol wt of 40,000, 31,000, and 27,000 daltons, respectively. The synthesis of these polypeptides has been measured using a double-labeling technique and a computer-aided statistical analysis. The rate of labeling of group I polypeptides is highest during the early light period and decreases after 6 h of growth. Group IIa is labeled from the beginning of the light period, but little synthesis of IIb occurs before 3 h, and significant amounts of label are not found in IIc before 5 h of growth. After approximately 8 h of light, groups IIb and IIc are synthesized at rates significantly greater than those of the other membrane polypeptides. The synthesis of the major polypeptide groups ceases in the dark. We conclude that the biosynthesis of the chloroplast membranes is a sequential or stepwise process.

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