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J Cell Biol. 1965 Dec;27(3):493-504.

Studies on fine structure and cytochemical properties of erythrophores in swordtail, Xiphophorus helleri, with special reference to their pigment granules (Pterinosomes).


The fine structure and the composition of pteridine pigments of erythrophores in adults of the swordtail fish, Xiphophorus helleri, were studied by means of cytochemistry, paper chromatography, ionophoresis, centrifugal fractionation, and electron microscopy. It was found that water-soluble pigments of erythrophores consisted exclusively of pteridine derivatives including large amounts of drosopterin, isodrosopterin, neodrosopterin, and moderate amounts of sepiapterin. While these substances were responsible for red pigmentation, moderate quantities of colorless pteridines, biopterin, Rana-chrome 3, xanthopterin, isoxanthopterin, and others, were also detectable. The ultrastructure of the erythrophore is characterized by numerous pigment granules and a well developed tubular endoplasmic reticulum. The former consist of a three-layered limiting membrane and inner lamellae which appear to be whorl-like due to a concentric arrangement of parallel membranes. All of the mentioned pteridines are primarily contained in this organelle which is designated, accordingly, "pterinosome." The possible functions of erythrophores and pterinosomes are discussed in the light of their structure and pigmentary constitution.

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