Life and Medical Sciences
Cell & Developmental Biology
Wiley InterScience Backfile Collection 1832-2000
In the retinas of teleost fish, rod photoreceptors elongate in response to light. Light-activated elongation is mediated by the myoid of the rod inner segment and is actin-dependent. Inner segment F-actin filaments form bundles running parallel to the cell's long axis. We examined the mechanism of rod elongation using mechanically-detached rod fragments, consisting of the motile inner segment and sensory outer segment (RIS-ROS). When RIS-ROS are isolated from darkadapted green sunfish and cultured in the light, they elongate 15μm at 0.3-0.6μm/min. Elongation was inhibited 65% by 0.1μM Cytochalasin D, suggesting a requirement for actin assembly. To determine the extent of assembly during elongation, we used three approaches to measure the F-actin content in RIS-ROS: detection of pelletable actin by SDS-PAGE after detergent-extraction of RIS-ROS; quantification of fluorescein-phalloidin binding by fluorimetry, fluorescence-activated cell sorting and image analysis; estimation of total F-actin filament length by electron microscopy. All three assays indicated that no net assembly of RIS-ROS F-actin accompanied myoid elongation. An increase in F-actin content within the elongated myoid was counterbalanced by a decrease in F-actin content within the 13 microvillus-like calycal processes located at the end of the inner segment opposite to the growing myoid. O'Connor and Burnside (Journal of Cell Biology 89:517-524, 1981) showed that minus-ends of rod F-actin filaments are oriented towards the elongating myoid while plus-ends are oriented towards the shortening calycal processes. Our observations suggest that RIS-ROS elongation entails actin polymerization at the minus-ends of filaments coupled with depolymerization at the filament plus-ends.
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