Studies carried out on a number of secretory cell systems suggest that the specific cytoplasmic granules in which the secretion products are stored before their release are complex organelles which can possess a distinct molecular organization. For instance, it has been reported that in some granules the segregated secretion products are organized into crystalline structures (1-3) or large intermolecular aggregates (4-8). It is likely that all phenomena of this type are favorable to the economy of the cell, in the sense that they reduce the energy required for storage of the secretion products. The prolactin (LTH) granules of the rat pituitary possess a number of morphological features which strongly suggest that the molecules(s) of their content might be arranged in a relatively stable structure. Thus, these granules are remarkably polymorphic in shape, and their membrane is usually separated from their content by a clear space. Furthermore, identifiable LTH granules devoid of their membrane are often seen in the pericapillary space, suggesting that upon discharge by exocytosis they are dissolved only slowly (9). However, no studies specifically concerned with the mechanisms of LTH storage have been reported so far. In order to obtain some information on this question, we have studied the behavior of isolated granule fractions incubated in vitro under a variety of carefully controlled experimental conditions.

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