The calvarial mRNA species of chick embryos were translated in the rabbit reticulocyte-lysate cell-free translation system. The amount of procollagen type-I mRNA species was determined by digestion with bacterial collagenase and by fluorography of the cell-free translation products. Administration of cortisol resulted in a specific decrease in the cellular concentration of translatable procollagen type-I mRNA species in the calvaria of developing chick embryos. There was a lag period of up to 12 h before the response, which was dose-dependent. The data suggest that the decrease in amounts of procollagen mRNA species is the main reason for the lower amount of tissue collagen after topical or systemic administration of glucocorticoids, although other factors may contribute to the response.

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