Mature ribosomes, their subunits, and their ribonucleoprotein precursors were extracted from HeLa cells and prepared for electron microscopy by a method based on adsorption of nucleic acid to a charged grid. Images so obtained revealed the presence of two types of ribonuclease-sensitive fibrils of consistent morphology. One of these types of fibril is present on the 80S and 55S nucleolar ribonucleoprotein precursors and the mature 60S subunit. The other type is restricted to the 80S precursor. The morphology of the fibrils and their distribution in the various preparations suggest identification with known secondary structural features of isolated pre-rRNA.

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