A study was made of the integrity of some components of the protein-synthesizing system from viable and non-viable embryos of rye grains. In comparison with viable-embryo components both post-ribosomal supernatant and ribosomal fractions from non-viable embryos are impaired, for neither will fully support polyphenylalanine synthesis in poly(U)-directed cell-free systems. The lesion in the supernatant lies in components other than the tRNA or the aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase, for these are as functional as those present in the fully active cell-free systems from viable embryos. The ribosomes of embryos of lowered viability show considerable fragmentation and degradation of both 18S and 25S rRNA. This breakdown does not, however, account for the complete lack of polypeptide synthesis in the poly(U)-directed non-viable-embryo system, for if provided with viable-embryo supernatant, non-viable-embryo ribosomes will sustain 60% of the viable-embryo ribosome activity. A lesion in non-viable-embryo supernatant has been located in the binding of the aminoacyl-tRNA to the ribosome. The impaired components in both supernatant and ribosomes in systems in vitro may reflect the site of faults in protein synthesis in vivo in the early hours of germination. The development of these lesions during grain storage could contribute to senescence and loss of viability in the embryos of rye.

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