Life and Medical Sciences
Cell & Developmental Biology
Wiley InterScience Backfile Collection 1832-2000
Using heavy meromyosin (HMM) or the fragment S1 of myosin as probes for actin microfilaments, we studied their organization in Paramecium both by fluorescence and electron microscopy.In interphasic cells, HMM decorates (a) most prominently the periphery of nascent and young food vacuoles and their route during the early phase of their intracellular transit; (b) a thin meshwork radiating from the gullet throughout the cytoplasm; (c) a small area beneath the pore of contractile vacuoles and beneath the cytoproct when open to release food residues. Most of these HMM-decorated structures are in close contact with microtubular arrays. All HMM decoration disappears in dividing cells and in cytochalasin-treated cells. In vivo, the drug immediately blocks food vacuole formation but does not affect cytokinesis, cyclosis, contractile vacuole pulsation, defecation, or nuclear movements.The data show that, as in the cells of other organisms, actin microfilaments form defined arrays that undergo physiologically controlled cycles of assembly/disassembly. These arrays contribute (at least in the phagocytotic process) to diverse types of movement: constriction, membrane fusion, and migration of food vacuoles. However, aside from their massive concentration along the phagocytotic tractus, actin microfilaments are neither major structural components of Paramecium cytoplasm nor the only cytoskeletal components ensuring motility or contractility processes.
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