To determine whether the prosthetic group of cytochrome c is synthesized and linked to the apoprotein in the cytosol or in connexion with the endoplasmic reticulum, we have studied the incorporation in vitro of δ-amino[14C]laevulinate into porphyrin compounds and cytochrome c by the cell sap from rat liver. The radioactive precursor was incorporated into a trichloroacetic acid-precipitable form partially resistant to extractions by acid solvents, suggesting the existence of a fraction covalently linked to protein. The activity was proportional to the amount of protein incubated, did not increase substantially by supplementation with the microsomal fraction and an energy source, and was very low in the pH5 fraction. Addition of increasing amounts of haemin inhibited the incorporation, as with purified δ-aminolaevulinate dehydratase. [14C]Protoporphyrin IX was identified by paper chromatography, together with a shoulder running as protohaem IX. The cell sap in the absence of ribosomes was also able to incorporate radioactivity into purified cytochrome c, and the addition of ribosomes significantly enhanced the activity. The precursors of haem c were synthesized in the soluble system by the known haem-synthetic pathway, as shown by the kinetics of labelling of the coproporphyrin, protoporphyrin and haem fractions, and the activities were concentrated in the precipitate obtained between 40 and 60% saturation with (NH4)2SO4. The presence of ferrochelatase was indicated by the incorporation of55Fe into proto- and haemato-haem identified by paper chromatography. It is concluded that the cell sap from rat liver contains the complete set of enzymes for the synthesis from δ-aminolaevulinate of haem c and its linkage to a small pool of free apoprotein c present in soluble form. This suggests that an ancillary pathway of haem synthesis occurs in the cytosol for at least the formation of the prosthetic group, which is linked post-translationally to that pool of apoprotein c synthesized by free polyribosomes.

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