Axons have been shown to contain substantial quantities of actin distributed along their length. However, the general lack of information on the structure and organizational state of this protein in axons has made it difficult to assign it a functional role. In the present study, we used electron microscopic immunocytochemistry (immunogold labeling) on neurites from cultured embryonic chick dorsal root ganglia to: (1) determine the distribution of actin in neurites: (2) identify actin-containing structures; and (3) reveal whether or not actin is associated preferentially with microtubules. Results show that actin is present throughout neurites but is organized primarily into short filaments that are localized almost exclusively to granular, microtubule-associated crossbridges. We propose that these short actin filaments are part of the framework of a supramolecular 'carrier complex' for the slow component b polypeptides. In addition, actin-containing crossbridges are often closely associated with the surfaces of membrane-bound organelles. This suggests that actin and microtubule-associated crossbridges are involved somehow in fast axonal transport, although the nature of their participation in this process still needs to be resolved.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Clinical Neurology
- Developmental Biology