Polymerization of actin has been associated with development of polar shape in human neutrophils (PMN). To examine the relation of filamentous actin (F-actin) distribution to shape change in PMN, we developed a method using computerized video image analysis and fluorescence microscopy to quantify distribution of F-actin in single cells. PMN were labeled with fluorescent probe NBD-phallicidin to measure filamentous actin and Texas red to assess cell thickness. We show that Texas red fluorescence is a reasonable measure of cell thickness and that correction of the NBD-phallicidin image for cell thickness using the Texas red image permits assessment of focal F-actin content. Parameters were derived that quantify total F-actin content, movement of F-actin away from the center of the cell, asymmetry of F-actin distribution, and change from round to polar shape. The sequence of change in F-actin distribution and its relation to development of polar shape in PMN was determined using these parameters. After stimulation with chemotactic peptide at 25 degrees C, F-actin polymerized first at the rim of the PMN. This was followed by development of asymmetry of F-actin distribution and change to polar shape. The dominant pseudopod developed first in the region of lower F-actin concentration followed later by polymerization of actin in the end of the developed pseudopod. Asymmetric F-actin distribution was detected in round PMN before development of polar shape. Based upon these data, asymmetric distribution of F-actin is coincident with and probably precedes development of polar shape in PMN stimulated in suspension by chemotactic peptide.

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