The equations that have been used previously to analyse the rate of decay of hnRNA implicitly assume that nascent hnRNAs are degraded stochastically. This assumption is inconsistent with electron-microscopic studies of transcription cited here, which show that nascent hnRNAs are not degraded during transcription, implying that hnRNA degradation occurs only after termination of transcription and release of the hnRNA from chromatin. Equations are derived describing the accumulation of radioactivity hnRNA during continuous labelling assuming that nascent hnRNAs are stable and that hnRNAs decay with first-order kinetics only after completion of transcription. The effects of the transient stability of nascent hnRNAs on the kinetics of hnRNA turnover can become important when the half-life of the hnRNA is shorter than the time to transcribe an hnRNA from the point of initiation to the point of termination. These equations should prove useful in studies of hnRNA turnover that require a precise description of the labelling kinetics of nascent and completed subpopulations of hnRNA.

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