Cytochalasin D induces changes in cell shape and promotes in vitro chondrogenesis: A morphological study

Loty, S.; Forest, N.; Boulekbache, H.; Sautier, J.M.

Biology of the Cell 83(2-3): 149-161


ISSN/ISBN: 0248-4900
PMID: 7549910
DOI: 10.1016/0248-4900(96)81303-7
Accession: 008408886

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One of the initial events required for the expression of cartilage-specific macromolecules in monolayer cultures is the reversion to the initial round shape of chondrocytes. Thus, considerable research efforts have focused on developing reliable procedures to maintain a round morphology of cultured chondrocytes. Our study focuses on evaluating the response of dedifferentiated fetal rat chondrocytes to cytochalasin D, an actin-disrupting agent, with special emphasis on the morphological events. Immediately after exposure to the drug, cells round up but flatten again after removing the agent. However, immunocytochemical procedures revealed a disorganization of microfilaments and intermediate filaments. Phase-contrast and scanning electron microscopic observations revealed that on day 6 of culture, cells located at the top of the cell layer adopted a spherical morphology. Prominent differences were noted in control cultures where cells had to aggregate prior to overt chondrogenesis. Transmission electron microscopy confirmed the round morphology of the cells situated at the top layer but also revealed the presence of cell contacts between the cells. In addition, cells located at the central part of the cell layer displayed a typical morphology of mature chondrocytes, separated by an extensive extracellular matrix. These morphological changes occurred parallel to the expression of type II collagen and chondroitin sulfate, both hallmarks of the chondrocyte phenotype strong in experimental cultures, relatively weak in control cultures, and only restricted on areas of polygonal cellular aggregates. Furthermore, [35S]-sulfate incorporation into sulfated glycosaminoglycans increased rapidly with the period of culture to a maximum after 7 days and was then two-fold in treated cultures. Taken together, these findings indicated that cytochalasin D stimulates chondrogenesis in response to modification of cytoskeleton architecture and the subsequent rounding up of the cells.