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Abstract

The secretory pathway and kinetics of the secretory process were studied in Brunner's glands of mice after stimulation of secretion with a parasympatho-mimetic drug. Adult male mice were injected with pilocarpine, while unstimulated controls received saline. The animals were subsequently administered an intravenous injection of 3H-threonine, and tissue was prepared for electron microscope autoradiography at intervals ranging from 5 minutes to 2 hours after injection of the radioactive precursor. Stimulation with pilocarpine resulted in discharge of secretory granules, which was reflected in a significantly lower percentage of the cell volume occupied by granules. In both control and stimulated mice, at 5 minutes after injection of 3H-threonine, the highest percentage of silver grains over the rough endoplasmic reticulum declined at later intervals, and a peak of labeling was observed over the Golgi apparatus at 1 hour. Labeling of the secretory granules increased in the 1- and 2-hour samples from both control and stimulated mice, although the relative concentration of radioactivity in both Golgi-associated and apical secretory granules was greater in stimulated than control glands at 1 hour. The results suggest that the secretory protein produced by Brunner's glands was synthesized by the rough endoplasmic reticulum and transported to the Golgi apparatus where secretory granules were formed in both stimulated and control glands. Depletion of secretory granules by prior stimulation resulted in no change in the kinetics of arrival of radioactivity in the cell organelles involved in the secretory process. However, the drainage of the radioactive label from the rough endoplasmic reticulum was significantly slower in the stimulated glands than in the controls. The existence of two subcompartments within the rough endoplasmic reticulum is among the possible explanations for the latter observation.