Biochemical evidence from the preceding paper indicated that [3H]N-acetylmannosamine may be used as a fairly specific precursor for the sialic acid residues of glycoproteins (and perhaps glycolipids) in radioautographs of rat liver and duodenum. In order to study the site of incorporation of this label in cell types of various tissues, we gave 40-g rats and 15-g Swiss albino mice a single intravenous injection of 8 mCi of [3H]N-acetylmannosamine and sacrificed them after 2 and 10 min. To trace the subsequent migration of the labeled glycoproteins, we injected 40-g rats with 4 mCi of [3H]N-acetylmannosamine and sacrificed them after 20 and 30 min, 1, 4, and 24 h, and 3 and 9 d. Light microscope radioautographic analysis revealed that in a great variety of cell types the label was initially localized to the Golgi region. Electron microscope radioautographic analysis of duodenal villous columnar and goblet cells, pancreatic acinar cells and Paneth cells, from rats and mice sacrificed 10 min after injection, showed that the silver grains were localized over Golgi saccules (and adjacent secretion granules). In kidney proximal and distal tubule cells reaction was initially localized to the Golgi apparatus in some areas of the kidney cortex whereas in other areas it was more diffuse. In all cells, the proportion of silver grains over the Golgi apparatus decreased with time after injection while an increasing number of grains appeared over secretion products in secretory cells or over the plasma membrane in other cell types. Lysosomes also became increasingly labeled at later time intervals. The above results suggest that in most cell types sialic acid residues are incorporated into glycoproteins (and perhaps glycolipids), primarily in the Golgi apparatus. With time, these newly synthesized molecules migrate to secretion products, to the plasma membrane, or to the lysosomes.

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