1. Labile protein is formed when rat or rabbit reticulocytes are incubated in medium deficient in individual amino acids, especially histidine, valine or alanine. The fraction of unstable protein is increased to about 35% of the total protein synthesized when the histidinyl-tRNA-charging inhibitor, histidinol, is added to histidine-deficient media. 2. The molecular weights of the labile proteins measured by sodium dodecyl sulphate/polyacrylamide-gel electrophoresis in the presence of urea are less than haemoglobin and probably represent prematurely terminated haemoglobin chains. 3. Although protein synthesis is always lower under conditions that produce labile protein, inhibition of protein synthesis by fluoride or cycloheximide does not give an effect similar to amino acid depletion. 4. The synthesis of protein in deficient medium does not alter the degradation rate of pre-existing protein in reticulocytes and is thus unrelated to the stringent response in bacteria. 5. We propose that amino acid-deficient medium leads to a decreased charging of the appropriate tRNA, a concomitant decrease in protein synthesis and the degradation of nascent peptides.
- © 1978 London: The Biochemical Society