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J Comp Neurol. 1996 Dec 2;376(1):128-42.

The actin network in the ciliary stalk of photoreceptors functions in the generation of new outer segment discs.

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Neuroscience Research Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara 93106, USA.


Cytochalasin D (CD) interferes with the morphogenesis of outer segment disc membrane in photoreceptors. Disruption of either the actin network in the ciliary stalk, where membrane evagination is initiated, or the actin core of the calycal processes, whose position could define the disc perimeter, could be responsible. We have attempted to determine which of these local F-actin populations is involved in membrane morphogenesis and what step in the process is actin-dependent. Biocytin accumulation in nascent discs, detected by fluorescent avidin and laser scanning confocal microscopy (LSCM), provided a means of labeling abnormal discs and a measure of disc membrane addition. F-actin content and distribution were assessed using fluorescent phalloidin and LSCM. First, we examined the effects of a range of CD dosages (0.1, 1.0, or 10.0 microM) on rod photoreceptors in Xenopus laevis eyecup cultures. Ectopic outgrowth of discs, evaluated by LSCM and transmission electron microscopy (TEM), occurred at each concentration. Phalloidin labeling intensified in the ciliary stalk with increasing CD concentration, indicating F-actin aggregation. In contrast, it diminished in the calycal processes, indicating dispersal; TEM showed that calycal process collapse ensued. Disruption was evident at a lower concentration in the ciliary stalk (0.1 microM) than in the calycal processes (1.0 microM). TEM confirmed that the calycal processes remained intact at 0.1 microM. Thus, CD's action on the ciliary stalk network is sufficient to disrupt disc morphogenesis. Second, we examined the effect of CD on temperature-induced acceleration of the rate of disc formation. In the absence of CD, a 10 degrees C temperature shift increased the disc formation rate nearly three-fold. CD (5 microM) caused a 94% inhibition (P < 0.025) of this response; yet, the rate of membrane addition to ectopically growing discs exhibited the expected three-fold increase. Thus, CD's action interferes with the generation of new discs.

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