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Morphological studies on the mechanisms of pigmentary organelle transport in fish xanthophores and melanophores

, : Morphological studies on the mechanisms of pigmentary organelle transport in fish xanthophores and melanophores. Microscopy Research and Technique 58(6): 470-480

Pigmentary organelle translocations within fish chromatophores undergo physiological color changes when exposed to external signals. Chromatophores can be isolated in high yields, and their pigmentary organelles can be tracked readily by microscopy. The combined efforts of morphology and biomolecular chemistry have led to the identification of and determination of the interrelationships between cytoskeletal elements and accessory proteins, motor molecules, cytomatrix, and pigmentary organelles of various sizes. Fish chromatophores have been classified as fast, intermediate, and slow translocators, based on the relative numbers of microtubules. Studies on cultured goldfish (Carassius auratus L.) xanthophores for over 20 years have demonstrated that in this slow translocator, tubulovesicular structures of the smooth endoplasmic reticular (SER) cisternae are involved in the disperson and aggregation of associated carotenoid droplets (CD) with some involvement of cytoskeletal elements. Killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus L.) melanophore, a fast translocator, was also examined. Recent work demonstrates a bright fluorescent "starburst"-like spot that we call an actin filament-organizing center (AFOC) with radiating microfilaments, akin to the microtubule-organizing center (MTOC) with radiating microtubules. Melanosomes translocate single-file on microtubules and are not associated with SER cisternae. Slower CD dispersion or aggregation in goldfish xanthophores seems to be predominantly microfilament-based transport, or microfilament- and microtubule-based transport, respectively. Faster melanosome translocations in killifish melanophores are based on microtubules, with our evidence indicating microfilament involvement. Neural crest-derived chromatophores are models for vesicular transport in axons, and immunocytochemical and imaging technologies may help to elucidate the cellular transport mechanisms.


PMID: 12242704

DOI: 10.1002/jemt.10165

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