We have developed and characterized translationally active cell-free systems from Artemia embryos at different developmental times. The optimized lysates from 16 h-developed embryos incorporated radiolabelled amino acids into polypeptides for up to 120 min. The polypeptides synthesized ranged in Mr from 150,000 to 10,000, suggesting that the endogenous mRNA was capable of directing the synthesis of complete polypeptides. Similar results were obtained by using lysates from early developmental stages; even the cell-free system prepared from 1 h-developed embryos was partially active in protein synthesis. Furthermore, all these lysates were capable of re-initiation, as demonstrated by inhibition of initiation with the inhibitors edeine and 7-methylguanosine 5′-triphosphate. Because we found no endogenous protein-synthetic activity in the corresponding lysates from undeveloped embryos, we have used cell-free translation systems from 0 h- and 16 h-developed Artemia embryos to analyse the mechanisms limiting protein synthesis at very early developmental stages. Undeveloped-embryo lysates supplemented with nuclease-treated reticulocyte lysate were capable of translating endogenous mRNAs to give products with a wide spectrum of Mr values, but lysates of 16 h-developed embryos supplemented in this way were not further stimulated. The nuclease-treated lysate appeared to be unnecessary 5 h after resumption of development. These results suggested that a component(s) limiting translation in the undeveloped-embryo lysate was provided by the nuclease-treated reticulocyte lysate, and that this component(s) no longer limited protein synthesis after development. In view of these results, partially fractionated reticulocyte lysates were tested for restoration of protein-synthetic activity in the undeveloped embryo lysate. A high-salt ribosomal wash devoid of ribosomal subunits, which is considered a crude polypeptide-initiation-factor preparation, also restored translation activity in the undeveloped embryo lysate and made it capable of directing the synthesis of both endogenous mRNAs and exogenous (globin) mRNA.

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