Embryonic-chicken epiphyseal cartilage was incubated in vitro with a variety of beta-xylosides and the amount of [3H]acetate incorporation into chondroitin sulphate was determined under conditions when normal protein core production was inhibited by cycloheximide. The ability of the different beta-xylosides to relieve thea cycloheximide-mediated inhibition of chondroitin sulphate synthesis was influenced by the nature of the aglycan group of te xyloside. beta-Xylosides with apolar and uncharged aglycan groups were most effective and produced a severalfold stimulation of chondroitin sulphate biosynthesis. beta-Xylosides with charged aglycan groups were less effective initiators of chondroitin sulphate synthesis. The rate of galactose transfer from UDP-galactose to each of the beta-xylosides, catalysed by a cell-free microsomal preparation from embryonic cartilage, was measured. This study showed that the nature of the aglycan group of the beta-xyloside was a factor determining the capacity of the xyloside to act as an acceptor for galactosyltransferase I, the enzyme that catalyses the first galactose transfer reaction of chondroitin sulphate synthesis. The aglycan group of the xyloside also appeared to influence other steps leading to chondroitin sulphate chain initiation in vitro.

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