The effect of luteinizing hormone (luteotropin) and cycloheximide on specific protein synthesis in rat testis Leydig cells has been investigated. Proteins were labelled with either I114C]leucine, [3H]leucine or [35S]methionine during incubation with Leydig-cell suspensions in vitro. Total protein was extracted from the cells and separated by sodium dodecyl sulphate/polyacrylamide-gel electrophoresis. No detectable increase in the synthesis of specific proteins could be observed after incubation of Leydig cells with luteinizing hormone for up to 1 h. However, after a 2h incubation period, an increase in [35S]methionine incorporation was observed in a protein with an apparent mol.wt. of 21000 (referred to as ‘protein 21’). When, after labelling of this protein with [35S]-methionine, Leydig cells were incubated for another 30min with cycloheximide, no decrease in radioactivity of this protein band was observed, indicating that it does not have a short half-life. However, another protein band was detected, which after incubation with cycloheximide disappeared rapidly, the reaction following first-order kinetics, with a half-life of about 11 min. This protein, with an apparent mol.wt. of 33000 (referred to as “protein 33”), was found to be located in the particulate fraction of the Leydig cell, and could not be demonstrated in other rat testis-cell types or blood cells. No effect of luteinizing hormone on molecular weight, subcellular localization or half-life of protein 33 was observed. A possible role for protein 33 and protein 21 in the mechanism of action of luteinizing hormone on testosterone production of Leydig cells is discussed.

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