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Mol Cell Biol. 1981 Feb; 1(2): 179–187.
PMCID: PMC369657

Large heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleic acid has three times as many 5' caps as polyadenylic acid segments, and most caps do not enter polyribosomes.


The rate of synthesis in Chinese hamster cells of 5' cap structures, m7 GpppNmp, in large (greater than 700 bases) heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecules is two to three times faster than the synthesis of 3'-terminal polyadenylic acid segments. As judged by presence of caps, newly synthesized polysomal messenger RNA, exclusive of messenger RNA the size of histone messenger RNA, is more than 90% in the polyadenylated category. It appears, therefore, that between half and two-thirds of the long capped heterogeneous nuclear RNA molecules do not contribute a capped polysomal derivative to the cytoplasm. There are capped, nonpolysomal, non-polyadenylated molecules with a rapid turnover rate that fractionate with the cytoplasm. These metabolically unstable molecules either could represent leakage into the cytoplasm during fractionation or could truly spend a brief time in the cytoplasm before decay.

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