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When present in excess, the mRNAs for Saccharomyces cerevisiae ribosomal proteins L3 and L29 are translated less efficiently, so that synthesis of these proteins remains commensurate with that of other ribosomal proteins (N.J. Pearson, H.M. Fried, and J.R. Warner, Cell 29:347-355, 1982; J.R. Warner, G. Mitra, W.F. Schwindinger, M. Studeny, and H.M. Fried, Mol. Cell. Biol. 5:1512-1521, 1985). We used a yeast strain with a conditionally transcribed derivative of the L3 gene to deplete cells progressively of L3 mRNA. In this case translation of L3 mRNA did not become more efficient so that L3 was not maintained at a normal level. Even when there was an initial excess of L3 mRNA, interruption of its further transcription produced an immediate drop in L3 synthesis, suggesting that the translational efficiency of preexisting mRNA cannot be altered. Lack of L3 synthesis afforded an opportunity to examine coordinate accumulation of other ribosomal proteins. Without L3, apparent synthesis of several 60S subunit proteins diminished, and 60S subunits did not assemble. A similar phenomenon occurred when, in a second strain, synthesis of ribosomal protein L29 was prevented. Loss of 60S subunit assembly was accompanied by a destabilization of some 60S ribosomal protein mRNAs. These data suggest that synthesis of some S. cerevisiae ribosomal proteins may be regulated posttranscriptionally as a function of the extent to which they are assembled.