1. Enterocytes, isolated from the proximal jejunum and distal ileum of normal and prednisolone-treated rats, were homogenized and fractionated by isopycnic centrifugation on sucrose density gradients. The distributions of marker enzymes for the principal subcellular organelles, RNA and protein were determined and related to the activities per enterocyte.
2. In enterocytes from the jejunum and ileum of prednisolone-treated animals the activities of particulate brush-border enzymes and of both soluble and mitochondrial malate dehydrogenase were increased compared with those of the control system. The equilibrium density of the brush borders was enhanced in the prednisolone-treated jejunum. The modal densities of the other organelles were unaltered by prednisolone administration.
3. There was a large increase in the total RNA content of enterocytes from the jejunum and ileum of prednisolone-treated animals. This was predominantly associated with a distinct particulate component, indicative of a proliferation of the rough endoplasmic reticulum and consistent with an enhanced rate of protein synthesis.
4. Studies of latent brush-border enzyme activities, the mechanical fragility of isolated brush borders and electron microscopy suggest that steroid administration results in no marked alterations in the gross conformation of the brush- border membrane or in the orientation of the enzymes within the membrane.