An assessment of the masked message hypothesis: Sea urchin egg messenger ribonucleoprotein complexes are efficient templates for in vitro protein synthesis

Randall T. Moon, Michael V. Danilchik, Merrill B. Hille

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations


The rate of protein synthesis in unfertilized sea urchin eggs is very low, although all components for protein synthesis are present. To determine whether egg messenger RNAs are unavailable for translation because of "masking" by phenol-soluble inhibitors, crude and purified nonpolyribosomal messenger ribonucleoprotein complexes (mRNPs) from eggs of Strongylocentrotus purpuratus were translated in vitro in a wheat germ cell-free system. Crude and purified egg mRNPs were nearly as translatable as the mRNAs extracted from the mRNPs, suggesting that the mRNPs were not masked. No difference in the relative translational activities of mRNPs and their constituent mRNAs was revealed by isolating the mRNPs in buffers of different ionic strength or in the presence of protease and ribonuclease inhibitors. Furthermore, kinetic analysis of the in vitro translation and translation of the mRNPs and mRNAs at several concentrations of K+, Mg2+, and template all indicate that mRNPs are efficient templates for directing protein synthesis. Separation on polyacrylamide gels of the products of in vitro and in vivo translation demonstrated that both mRNPs and mRNAs extracted from the mRNPs synthesized in vitro high-molecular-weight polypeptides, some of which were also synthesized in vivo. Although sea urchin egg mRNPs may not be masked, there are several alternative mechanisms for regulating translation in the egg.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)389-403
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1982


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

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