Hormone-induced pigment translocations in amphibian dermal iridophores, in vitro: changes in cell shape

J Exp Zool. 1979 Apr;208(1):17-34. doi: 10.1002/jez.1402080104.


Hormone-induced pigment translocation studies were conducted at both the light and electron microscopic levels on cultured dermal iridophores from the Mexican leaf frog, Pachymedusa dacnicolor. Two distinct types of dermal iridophores were characterized which differed in (1) their in vivo locations, (2) their overall morphologies in vitro, (3) their responses to alpha-MSH, ACTH, c-AMP or theophylline, (4) their physical alterations of light, and (5) certain ultrastructural features. One iridophore (Type I) was found to be physiologically responsive to the above hormones or agents by a reversible retraction of cellular processes and a thickening of the cell body, an event which is inhibited by cytochalasin B. The other iridophore (Type II) appeared to be unresponsive. Type I iridophores contain cube-like pigmentary organelles, refractosomes, while Type II iridophores contain larger, bar-shaped refractosomes. In addition, both iridophore types contain 60 and 100 A microfilaments as well as microtubules. By in large, micorfilaments were found within microvilli, beneath and parallel to the plasma membrane and in the perinuclear region. Occasionally, bundles of 100 A microfilaments were found between layers of refractosomes in Type I iridophores. These results are discussed in relation to hormone-induced changes in cell shape.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Actins / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromatophores / drug effects*
  • Chromatophores / ultrastructure
  • Cyclic AMP / pharmacology*
  • Cytochalasin B / pharmacology
  • Melanocyte-Stimulating Hormones / pharmacology
  • Skin Pigmentation / drug effects*


  • Actins
  • Cytochalasin B
  • Melanocyte-Stimulating Hormones
  • Cyclic AMP