The incorporation of [14C]glucose from UDP-[14C]glucose into proteoglycogen fractions of a retinal microsomal preparation was studied. From the rate of labelling of acid-insoluble and -soluble proteoglycogen at different sugar-donor concentrations, and from the conversion of the labelled acid-insoluble into an acid-soluble form measured by a ‘chase’ with unlabelled UDP-glucose, it was concluded that acid-insoluble 42 kDa protein (p42)-bound glycogen of weight-average Mr 4.7 x 10(5) and acid-soluble p42-bound glycogen of weight-average Mr 7.0 x 10(5) [Miozzo, Lacoste & Curtino (1989) Biochem. J. 260, 287-289] are related as precursor and product respectively. About one-third of the acid-insoluble proteoglycogen was excluded from a Sephacryl S-500 column and was associated with large membrane vesicles. Proteoglycogen was not dissociated from the membranes by treatment with saline solutions or with SDS at a low detergent-to-protein ratio. It was dissociated by treatment with detergents under conditions which were shown to solubilize integral membrane sialoglycoconjugates of retina. These results lead us to postulate that the biogenesis of retina glycogen starts on membrane-associated p42 to form acid-insoluble proteoglycogen, which is then dissociated from membranes and converted into acid-soluble proteoglycogen by the ‘growth’ of its polysaccharide moiety.

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