From the protein and RNA content of Saccharomyces cerevisiae growing in different media we calculate that ribosome efficiency is changed: incorporation of amino acids into protein decreases from 8.8 amino acids/s per ribosome in fast-growing cells (0.54 doubling/h) to 5.2 amino acids/s per ribosome in slow-growing cells (0.30 doubling/h). We could not detect significant protein turnover in either fast-or slow-growing cultures, so the lower ribosome efficiency does not seem to be an artifact caused by changes in unstable protein production at different growth rates. Nor is the lower ribosome efficiency due to slower migration of ribosomes along mRNA: the times required to complete polypeptides of known molecular weights are the same in slow-growing cells as those previously determined for fast-growing cells [Waldron, Jund & Lacroute (1974) FEBS Lett. 46, 11-16]. We therefore deduce that ribosome efficiency changes in yeast because the fraction of ribosomes engaged in protein synthesis falls (from 84% in fast-growing cells to 50% in slow-growing cells.

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