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J Cell Sci. 2002 Mar 15;115(Pt 6):1221-9.

Dual labeling of the fibronectin matrix and actin cytoskeleton with green fluorescent protein variants.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, Duke University Medical Center, NC27710, USA.


We have prepared 3T3 cells doubly labeled to visualize simultaneously the extracellular fibronectin (FN) matrix and intracellular actin cytoskeleton in living cell cultures. We used FN-yellow fluorescent protein (FN-yfp) for the FN matrix, and the actin-binding domain of moesin fused to cyan fluorescent protein (cfp-Moe) to stain actin. Actin filament bundles were clearly seen in the protruding lamellae of the cells. FN matrix assembly appeared to be initiated as small spots of FN at the ends of actin filament bundles. The spots then elongated along the actin filament bundle toward the cell center to form FN fibrils. The end of the fibril towards the cell edge appeared immobile, and probably attached to the substrate, whereas the end toward the cell center frequently showed movements, suggesting attachment to the cell. Combining our data with the observations of Pankov et al. we suggest that fibrils grow by stretching this mobile end toward the cell center while adding new FN molecules at the end and along the entire length. When the cell culture was treated with cytochalasin to disrupt the actin cytoskeleton, some fibrils contracted substantially, suggesting that the segment attached primarily to the cell surface is stretched.

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