1. By 1h after administration of ethionine to the female rat the appearance of newly synthesized 18SrRNA in the cytoplasm is completely inhibited. This is not caused by inhibition of RNA synthesis, for the synthesis of the large ribosomal precursor RNA (45S) and of tRNA continues. Cleavage of 45S RNA to 32S RNA also occurs, but there was no evidence for the accumulation of mature or immature rRNA in the nucleus. 2. The effect of ethionine on the maturation of rRNA was not mimicked by an inhibitor of protein synthesis (cycloheximide) or an inhibitor of polyamine synthesis [methylglyoxal bis(guanylhydrazone)]. 3. Unlike the ethionine-induced inhibition of protein synthesis, this effect was not prevented by concurrent administration of inosine. A similar effect could be induced in HeLa cells by incubation for 1h in a medium lacking methionine. The ATP concentration in these cells was normal. From these two observations it was concluded that the effect of etionine on rRNA maturation is not caused by an ethionine-induced lack of ATP. It is suggested that ethionine, by lowering the hepatic concentration of S-adenosylmethionine, prevents methylation of the ribosomal precursor. The methylation is essential for the correct maturation of the molecule; without methylation complete degradation occurs.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.