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Actin para crystals and actin filaments in apical zone of inner ear receptor cells

Actin para crystals and actin filaments in apical zone of inner ear receptor cells

Otologia Fukuoka 27(1): 60-79

Fine fibrillar structure of apical zone on inner ear receptor cells in the guinea-pig was investigated using several fixation methods under transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The structure of hair rootlets and cuticular plates were observed as almost dense and homogenous material using the ordinary glutaraldehyde-osmium fixation method. The original structure was concealed and unobvious because of selectively destructive effect of the fixatives. The finer structure was revealed by using tannic acid fixation, and modified glutaraldehyde-osmium fixation method which was developed to preserve actin filaments during preparation. These methods enabled the visualization of those fibrillar structures in greater detail under TEM. The structure of hair rootlet was proved to be composed of actin paracrystal or its near form. The width of actin filament in hair rootlet was 83 .ANG. and a pitch of the double helix was 2 .times. (332-388) .ANG. Cross-sectioned actin filaments in hair rootlet were arranged in extremely regular pattern (hexagon) and were chained to one another by smaller filaments (10 .ANG. in diameter). About 80 .ANG. diameter filaments radiated from paracrystal structure into the lighter zone surrounding each rootlet. Hair rootlet was suspected to have a variable elasticity or flexibility induced by polymorphism of actin. This system may be initiated by mechanical stimuli and controlled automatically. Individual filaments (.apprx. 80 .ANG. in diameter) in sensory hair and cuticular plate were also composed of actin filaments. In the cuticular plate fibrillar structure was enhanced by using EDTA (Ca2+ chelating agent) as pre-treatment before tannic acid fixation procedure. There were filaments surrounding the lighter zone and connecting rootlets to each other, to the cuticular plate filaments and the tight junction between the supporting cell. Paracrystal structure in hair rootlet was not affected. Actin filaments in hair rootlet and cuticular plate may have different regulatory proteins. The dense material connected each sensory hair in a characteristic form. The material was suspected to be composed of glycoprotein.

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