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J Anat. 2004 Nov;205(5):381-91.

Actin filament organization in aligned prefusion myoblasts.

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School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Leeds, UK.


The organization of the actin cytoskeleton in prefusion aligning myoblasts is likely to be important for their shape and interaction. We investigated actin filament organization and polarity by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) in these cells. About 84% of the filaments counted were either found in a subplasmalemma sheet up to 0.5 microm thick that was aligned with the long axis of the cell, or in protrusions. The remaining filaments were found in the cytoplasm, where they were randomly orientated and not organized into bundles. The polarity of the subplasmalemma filaments changed progressively from one end of the cell to the other. At the ends of the cells and in protrusions, the majority of filaments were organized such that their barbed ends faced the tip of the protrusion. We did not find any actin filament bundles or stress fibres in these cells. Time-lapse phase microscopy demonstrated that aligned cells were still actively migrating at the time of our TEM observations, and their direction of movement was restricted to the long axis of the cell group. The ability of these cells to locomote actively in the absence of actin filament bundles suggests that in these cells the subplasmalemma actin sheet contributes not only to cell shape but also to cell locomotion.

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