The membrane barrier of stripped rough microsomes from rat liver is markedly altered on incubation with GTP at 37 degrees C: after 30 min the structure-linked latency of mannose-6-phosphatase was considerably reduced, and esterase and nucleoside diphosphatase were partly released into the suspension medium. This phenomenon was already maximal with 30 microM GTP and was specific for this nucleotide. Similar conditions enhance the dolichol-mediated glycosylation of protein in microsomes incubated with uridine diphosphate N-acetylglucosamine and guanosine diphosphate mannose (Godelaine, D., H. Beaufay, M. Wibo, and A. Amar-Costesec, 1979, Eur. J. Biochem., 96:17-26; Godelaine, D., H. Beaufay, and M. Wibo, 1979, Eur. J. Biochem., 96:27-34). The GTP-induced permeability and glycosylation activities evolved in parallel in rough microsomes subjected to various treatments to detach the ribosomes and were maximal after removal of congruent to 60% of the RNA. In addition, GTP had no effect of this type in smooth microsome subfractions. Triton X-100, in spite of complex inhibitory effects on glycosylation reactions, mimicked the action of GTP by increasing the amount of microsomal dolichylphosphate that reacts with uridine diphosphate N-acetylglucosamine and by enhancing synthesis of dolichylpyrophosphoryl-chitobiose at concentrations greater than 2 mg/ml. Thus, GTP may activate dolichol-mediated glycosylation reactions in stripped microsomes by lowering the permeability barrier that prevents access of sugar nucleotides to the inner aspect of the membrane. The genuine role of GTP in the functioning of the endoplasmic reticulum membrane in situ remains unknown. Because GTP seems to act only on rough microsomes, we hypothesize that this role is somehow related to biosynthesis of protein by the rough endoplasmic reticulum.

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