Freeze-fracture micrographs of cells of the green alga Micrasterias denticulata stabilized by ultrarapid freezing reveal imprints of polysomes on the rough endoplasmic reticulum membranes. The imprints appear as broad, spiral ridges on the P faces and as corresponding wide grooves on the E faces of the membranes. Distinct 110-A particles with a spacing of 270 +/- 45 A are associated with the P-face ridges. Where imprints of individual ribosomes can be discerned, it is seen that there is a 1:1 relationship between the ribosomes and the 110-A particles, and that the 110-A particles are located in a peripheral position with respect to the polysome spirals. We propose that the 110-A particles could be structural equivalents of ribosome-binding sites, consisting of a molecule each of ribophorins I and II and a nascent polypeptide chain. These observations suggest that the spiral form of polysomes could result from the forces generated by the extrusion of the growing polypeptide chains to one side of the polysome.

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