In hepatocytes of fetal rats, cytoplasmic organelles identifiable as microbodies appeared, although only a few of them showed nucleoids and most of them generally had an electronlucent appearance due to the low density of their matrices. Some of these microbodies, especially those lacking the nucleoid, showed a substantial connection with granular endoplasmic reticulum (ER), suggesting that microbodies might be formed from granular ER. Agranular tubular profiles projecting from the surface of microbodies were found with a high frequency in fetal and neonatal rats; however, this phenomenon may not provide crucial evidence suggestive of the derivation of microbodies from agranular ER. Growth and maturation of microbodies are considered to be brought about by an enlargement of these organelles, an increase in their matrices, an appearance and enlargement of the nucleoids, and an increase in the enzyme involved. The specific activity of urate oxidase in the isolated nucleoid fraction was significantly lower in the earlier stages of postnatal growth than later. Increases in the enzyme activity per nucleoid (maturation of the nucleoid), in the number of microbodies containing nucleoids (formation of the nucleoid), and in the size of nucleoids (growth of the nucleoid), may contribute to increases in the enzyme activity of the tissues.
The nucleoids of microbodies of rat liver cells were isolated in a highly homogeneous and pure state, by treating the microbody-rich fraction, prepared from 10% polyvinylpyrrolidone-0.25 M sucrose homogenate, with Triton X-100. Three treatments with 0.1% detergent were enough to render the nucleoids free from contamination with mitochondria, microsomes, lysosomes, and intact microbodies. Electron microscopically, the nucleoids were found to consist of parallel bundles of highly dense hollow tubules, the outer and inner diameters of which are approximately 150 and 50 A, respectively. Ten tubules are arranged around a longitudinal space 190 x 200 A in width. The nucleoids thus show a honeycomb appearance in the cross-plane and a parallel-packed structure in the longitudinal plane. Biochemically, the nucleoids were found to bear only urate oxidase among probably microbody-enzymes, and they might be the only cytoplasmic particles of rat liver cells in which the enzyme locates. Urate oxidase activity, on a unit protein basis, of the nucleoid preparation is approximately 380 times as high as that of the whole homogenate, and is almost comparable with that of a commercial type I enzyme preparation. No enzymes of mitochondrial, microsomal, and lysosomal origins were detected in the nucleoids. The fine structure of the nucleoids is described in detail, and a probable schematic diagram is presented.