The structural and biochemical changes of cytoskeletal components of retinal pigmented epithelial cells were studied during the development of chicken eyes. When the cytoskeletal components of the pigmented epithelial cells from various stages of development were examined by SDS PAGE, actin contents in the cells markedly increased between the 15-d-old and hatching stages. Immunofluorescence microscopy showed that chicken pigmented epithelial cells have two types of actin bundles. One is the circumferential bundle associated with the zonula adherens region as previously reported (Owaribe, K., and H. Masuda, 1982, J. Cell Biol., 95:310-315). The other is the paracrystalline bundle forming the core of the apical projections. The increase in actin contents after the 15-d-old stage is accompanied by the formation and elongation of core filaments of apical projections in the cells. During this period the apical projections extend into extracellular space among outer and inner segments of photoreceptor cells. Accompanying this change is an elongation of the paracrystalline bundles of actin filaments in the core of the projection. By electron microscopy, the bundles decorated with muscle heavy meromyosin showed unidirectional polarity, and had transverse striations with approximately 12-nm intervals, as determined by optical diffraction of electron micrographs. Since the shape of these bundles was not altered in the presence or absence of Ca2+, they seemed not to have villin-like proteins. Unlike the circumferential bundles, the paracrystalline bundles did not contract when exposed to Mg-ATP. These observations indicate that the paracrystalline bundles are structurally and functionally different from the circumferential actin bundles.

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