Sensory neurons from chick embryos were cultured on substrata that support neurite growth, and were fixed and prepared for both cytochemical localization of actin and electron microscopic observation of actin filaments in whole-mounted specimens. Samples of cells were treated with the detergent Triton X-100 before, during, or after fixation with glutaraldehyde to determine the organization of actin in simpler preparations of extracted cytoskeletons. Antibodies to actin and a fluorescent derivative of phallacidin bound strongly to the leading margins of growth cones, but in neurites the binding of these markers for actin was very weak. This was true in all cases of Triton X-100 treatment, even when cells were extracted for 4 min before fixation. In whole-mounted cytoskeletons there were bundles and networks of 6-7-nm filaments in leading edges of growth cones but very few 6-7-n filaments were present among the microtubules and neurofilaments in the cytoskeletons of neurites. These filaments, which are prominent in growth cones, were identified as actin because they were stabilized against detergent extraction by the presence of phallacidin or the heavy meromyosin and S1 fragments of myosin. In addition, heavy meromyosin and S1 decorated these filaments as expected for binding to F-actin. Microtubules extended into growth cone margins and terminated within the network of actin filaments and bundles. Interactions between microtubule ends and these actin filaments may account for the frequently observed alignment of microtubules with filopodia at the growth cone margins.

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