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squid axoplasm, organelle movement, calmodulin, actin filaments, axonal transport






It was recently shown that, in addition to the well-established microtubule-dependent mechanism, fast transport of organelles in squid giant axons also occurs in the presence of actin filaments [Kuznetsov et al., 1992, Nature 356:722-725]. The objectives of this study were to obtain direct evidence of axoplasmic organelle movement on actin filaments and to demonstrate that these organelles are able to move on skeletal muscle actin filaments. Organelles and actin filaments were visualized by video-enhanced contrast differential interference contrast (AVEC-DIC) microscopy and by video intensified fluorescence microscopy. Actin filaments, prepared by polymerization of monomeric actin purified from rabbit skeletal muscle, were stabilized with rhodamine-phalloidin and adsorbed to cover slips. When axoplasm was extruded on these cover slips in the buffer containing cytochalasin B that prevents the formation of endogenous axonal actin filaments, organelles were observed to move at the fast transport rate. Also, axoplasmic organelles were observed to move on bundles of actin filaments that were of sufficient thickness to be detected directly by AVEC-DIC microscopy. The range of average velocities of movement on the muscle actin filaments was not statistically different from that on axonal filaments. The level of motile activity (number of organelles moving/min/field) on the exogenous filaments was less than on endogenous filaments probably due to the entanglement of filaments on the cover slip surface. We also found that calmodulin (CaM) increased the level of motile activity of organelles on actin filaments. In addition, CaM stimulated the movement of elongated membranous organelles that appeared to be tubular elements of smooth endoplasmic reticulum or extensions of prelysosomes. These studies provide the first direct evidence that organelles from higher animal cells such as neurons move on biochemically defined actin filaments.

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