In Chironomus tentans salivary gland cells, the cytoplasm can be dissected into concentric zones situated at increasing distances from the nuclear envelope. After RNA labeling, the newly made ribosomal subunits are found in the cytoplasm mainly in the neighborhood of the nucleus with a gradient of increasing abundance towards the periphery of the cell. The gradient for the small subunit lasts for a few hours and disappears entirely after treatment with puromycin. The large subunit also forms a gradient but one which is only partially abolished by puromycin. The residual gradient which which is resistant to the addition of the drug is probably due to the binding of some large ribosomal units to the membranes of the endoplasmic reticulum (J.-E. Edstrom and u. Lonn. 1976. J. Cell Biol. 70:562-572, and U. Lonn and J.-E. Edstrom. 1976. J. Cell. Biol. 70:573-580).
If growth is inhibited by starvation, only the puromycin-sensitive type gradient is observed for the large subunit, suggesting that the attachment of these newly made subunits to the endoplasmic reticulum membranes will not occur. If, on the other hand, the drug-resistant gradient is allowed to form in feeding animals, it is conserved during a subsequent starvation for longer periods than in control feeding animals. This observation provides a further support for an effect of starvation on the normal turnover of the large subunits associated with the endoplasmic reticulum. These results also indicate a considerable structural stability in the cytoplasm of these cells worth little or no gross redistribution of cytoplasmic structures over a period of at least 6 days.