Cytosine arabinoside (Ara-C) elicits a significant increase in the level of the enzyme glutamine synthetase (GS) while it markedly reduces overall RNA and protein synthesis in cultures of embryonic chick neural retina. This increase was analyzed by radioimmunochemical procedures and compared with the induction of GS by hydrocortisone (HC). Accumulation of GS in Ara-C-treated retinas was found to be due to de novo synthesis of the enzyme; however, unlike the induction of GS by HC, Ara-C caused no measurable increase in the rate of GS synthesis. The results indicate that Ara-C facilitates GS accumulation largely by preventing degradation of the enzyme. Even though Ara-C inhibits the bulk of RNA synthesis in the retina, it does not stop the formation of GS-specific RNA templates. However, the progressive accumulation of these templates does not result in an increased rate of GS synthesis unless Ara-C is withdrawn from such cultures under suitable experimental conditions. Thus, it is suggested that the continuous presence of Ara-C imposes a reversible hindrance at the translational level which limits the rate of GS synthesis. The results demonstrate that the increase in retinal GS elicited by Ara-C is achieved through mechanisms which are quite different from those involved in the hydrocortisone-mediated induction of this enzyme.

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