Fluorescence-mediated Visualization of Actin and Myosin Filaments in the Contractile Membrane-Cytoskeleton Complex of Dictyostelium Discoideum

Cell Struct Funct. 1990 Dec;15(6):355-64. doi: 10.1247/csf.15.355.


An intact complex that consisted of the cell membrane and cytoskeleton was prepared from Dictyostelium amoebae by an improved version of the method previously used by CLARKE et al. (1975). Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA., 72: 1758-1762. After cells had attached tightly to a polylysine-coated coverslip in the presence of a divalent cation, the upper portions of the cells were removed with a jet of microfilament-stabilizing solution squirted from a syringe. The cell membranes left on the coverslip were immediately stained with tetramethylrhodamine-conjugated phalloidin for staining of actin filaments, and with antibody against myosin from Dictyostelium and a fluorescein-conjugated second antibody for staining of myosin. Networks of actin filaments and numerous rod-like structures of myosin (myosin filaments) aligned along them were observed on the exposed cytoplasmic surfaces of the cell membranes. These networks were similar to those observed in the cortex of fixed whole cells. Addition of ATP to these intact complexes of cell membrane and cytoskeleton caused the aggregation of both actin and myosin into several dot-like structures of actin on the cell membrane. Similar dot-like structures were also seen in the cortex of fixed whole cells, and their changes in distribution correlated with the motile activity of the cells. Transmission electron microscopy showed that these dot-like structures were composed of an electron-dense structure at the center, from which numerous actin filaments radiated outwards. These observations suggest that these novel dot-like structures are organizing centers for cortical actin filaments and may possibly be related to the adhesion of cells to the substratum.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actin Cytoskeleton / drug effects
  • Actin Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure*
  • Actins / analysis*
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / pharmacology
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology
  • Cell Membrane / physiology
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Cytoskeleton / physiology
  • Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure
  • Dictyostelium / physiology
  • Dictyostelium / ultrastructure*
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Microscopy, Immunoelectron
  • Myosins / analysis*


  • Actins
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Myosins