The subcellular distribution of the most abundant mRNA sequences, particularly those of the immunoglobulin heavy (Ig H) and light (IG L) chain mRNA sequences, of MOPC 21 (P3K) mouse myeloma cells has been examined by translating the mRNA of various subcellular fractions in a messenger-dependent reticulocyte lysate (MDL) and by identifying Ig products with the use of a specific antiserum. Analyses of the distribution of the mRNA template activity and the translation products by SDS polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis reveal that approximately 85% of the mRNA present in the free ribosomal fraction is incorporated into polysomes and that the remainder is present as mRNP particles. On the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) the mRNA is found entirely in polysomes. In general, the size class of free (F) and membrane-bound (MB) polysomes corresponds to the size of their translation products. Thus, mRNAs coding Ig H (5.0 x 10(5) daltons in size) and Ig L (2.5 x 10(5) daltons in size) are incorporated into polysomes formed of 12 and 6 ribosomes, respectively. About 10% of the Ig mRNAs are not bound to membranes. A third of these are associated with mRNPs and the remainder incorporated into F polysomes of the same size as the Ig-synthesizing MB polysomes.

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