The subcellular distribution of various types of RNA in HeLa cells is described. In addition, the relative rate of synthesis of the major classes of nuclear RNA has been determined. From these experiments it can be deduced that the heterogeneous nuclear RNA fraction is rapidly synthesized and degraded within the cell nucleus.
Inhibition of protein synthesis by puromycin (100 γ/ml) is known to inhibit the synthesis of ribosomes. However, ribosomal precursor RNA (45S) continues to be synthesized, methylated, and processed. Cell fractionation studies revealed that, although the initial processing (45S → 32S + 16S) occurs in the presence of puromycin, the 16S moiety is immediately degraded. No species of ribosomal RNA can be found to have emerged from the nucleolus. The RNA formed in the presence of puromycin is normal as judged by its ability to enter new ribosomal particles after puromycin is removed. This sequence of events is not a result of inhibition of protein synthesis, for cycloheximide, another inhibitor of protein synthesis, either alone or in combination with puromycin allows the completion of new ribosomes.