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Cell Motil Cytoskeleton. 2004 Jun;58(2):71-82.

Actin-dependent motility of melanosomes from fish retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells investigated using in vitro motility assays.

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Department of Biology, Saint Joseph's University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19131, USA.


Melanosomes (pigment granules) within retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells of fish and amphibians undergo massive migrations in response to light conditions to control light flux to the retina. Previous research has shown that melanosome motility within apical projections of dissociated fish RPE cells requires an intact actin cytoskeleton, but the mechanisms and motors involved in melanosome transport in RPE have not been identified. Two in vitro motility assays, the Nitella assay and the sliding filament assay, were used to characterize actin-dependent motor activity of RPE melanosomes. Melanosomes applied to dissected filets of the Characean alga, Nitella, moved along actin cables at a mean rate of 2 microm/min, similar to the rate of melanosome motility in dissociated, cultured RPE cells. Path lengths of motile melanosomes ranged from 9 to 37 microm. Melanosome motility in the sliding filament assay was much more variable, ranging from 0.4-33 microm/min; 70% of velocities ranged from 1-15 microm/min. Latex beads coated with skeletal muscle myosin II and added to Nitella filets moved in the same direction as RPE melanosomes, indicating that the motility is barbed-end directed. Immunoblotting using antibodies against myosin VIIa and rab27a revealed that both proteins are enriched on melanosome membranes, suggesting that they could play a role in melanosome transport within apical projections of fish RPE.

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