Lipoprotein particles (d less than 1.03 g/ml) were isolated from rough and smooth microsomes and from the Golgi apparatus of rat liver, and were characterized chemically and morphologically. The rough endoplasmic reticulum (ER) particles were rich in protein (50%) and contained phospholipids (PLP) and triglycerides (TG) in smaller amounts, whereas the lipoprotein particles emanating from the smooth ER, and especially the Golgi apparatus, were rich in TG and PLP, resembling very low density lipoproteins (VLDL) of serum. The difference in chemical composition among the particles was associated with change in size both in situ and in isolated lipoprotein fractions. The rough ER particles were 200-800 A in diameter (mean similar to 420 A); the smooth er particles 200-900 A (mean similar to 520 A); the Golgi particles 350-950 A (mean similar to 580A); and serum VLDL 300-800 A (mean similar to 450 A). Generally, lipoprotein particles were rare in the rough ER, frequent but diffusely dispersed in smooth ER, and occurring mainly in clusters in "secretory vesicles" of the Golgi complex. They were seldom observed in the cisternal compartments of the Golgi complex. At short intervals (less than 15 min), intravenously injected radioactive glycerol was preferentially channelled into TG, whereas at later time points the majority of the isotope was recovered in the PLP. Three TG pools were distinguished: (a) a cytoplasmic pool with a slow turnover rate; (b) a membrane-associated TG pool; and (c) a pool corresponding to the TG moiety of lipoprotein particles, which showed the highest initial rate of labeling and fastest turnover. When, after pulse labeling, the appearance of incorporation of radioactive glycerol into TG or PLP of isolated lipoproteins was followed from one subcellular fraction to the other, a sequence of labeling was noted. During the first interval, TG from both rough and smooth microsomal lipoproteins displayed a high rate of labeling with peak value at 6 min, followed by a quick fall-off, while the Golgi lipoproteins reached maximal level at 10-20 min after administration. There was an interval of 10-15 min before the appearance of labeled VLDL in serum. It is concluded that the assembly of the apoproteins and lipid moieties into lipoprotein particles-presumed to be precursors of liver VLDL-begins in the rough ER and continues in the smooth ER. Also, there is a parallel change in chemical composition and size of the lipoprotein particles as they make their way through the ER and the Golgi apparatus. Some remodeling of the particles may take place in the Golgi apparatus before discharge into the circulation.

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