, Volume 177, Issue 1, pp 47-57

Actin cytoskeleton in intact and wounded coenocytic green algae

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Summary

The subcellular distribution of actin was investigated in two related species of coenocytic green algae, with immunofluorescence microscopy. Either no, or fine punctate fluorescence was detected in intact cells of Ernodesmis verticillata (Kützing) Børgesen and Boergesenia forbesii (Harvey) Feldmann. A reticulate pattern of fluorescence appears throughout the cortical cytoplasm of Ernodesmis cells shortly after wounding; this silhouettes chloroplasts and small vacuoles. Slender, longitudinal bundles of actin become evident in contracting regions of the cell, superimposed over the reticulum. Thicker portions of the bundles were observed in well-contracted regions, and the highly-convoluted appearance of nearby cortical microtubules indicates contraction of the bundles in these thicker areas. Bundles are no longer evident after healing; only the reticulum remains. In Boergesenia, a wider-mesh reticulum of actin develops in the cortex of wounded cells, which widens further as contractions continue. Cells wounded in Ca2+-free medium do not contract, and although the actin reticulum is apparent, no actin bundles were ever observed in these cells. Exogenously applied cytochalasins have no effect on contractions of cut cells or extruded cytoplasm, and normal actin-bundle formation occurs in treated cells. In contrast, erythro-9-[3-(2-hydroxynonyl)]adenine (EHNA) completely inhibits longitudinal contractions in wounded cells, and few uniformly slender actin bundles develop in inhibited cells. These results indicate that wounding stimulates a Ca2+-dependent, hierarchical assembly of actin into bundles, whose assembly and functioning are inhibited by EHNA. Contraction of the bundles and concomitant wound healing are followed by cessation of motility and disassembly of the bundles. The spatial and temporal association of the bundles with regions of cytoplasmic contraction, indicates that the actin bundles are directly involved in wound-induced cytoplasmic motility in these algae.