We have identified an F-actin cytoskeletal network that remains throughout interphase, mitosis, and cytokinesis of higher plant endosperm cells. Fluorescent labeling was obtained using actin monoclonal antibodies and/or rhodamine-phalloidin. Video-enhanced microscopy and ultrastructural observations of immunogold-labeled preparations illustrated microfilament-microtubule co-distribution and interactions. Actin was also identified in cell crude extract with Western blotting. During interphase, microfilament and microtubule arrays formed two distinct networks that intermingled. At the onset of mitosis, when microtubules rearranged into the mitotic spindle, microfilaments were redistributed to the cell cortex, while few microfilaments remained in the spindle. During mitosis, the cortical actin network remained as an elastic cage around the mitotic apparatus and was stretched parallel to the spindle axis during poleward movement of chromosomes. This suggested the presence of dynamic cross-links that rearrange when they are submitted to slow and regular mitotic forces. At the poles, the regular network is maintained. After midanaphase, new, short microfilaments invaded the equator when interzonal vesicles were transported along the phragmoplast microtubules. Colchicine did not affect actin distribution, and cytochalasin B or D did not inhibit chromosome transport. Our data on endosperm cells suggested that plant cytoplasmic actin has an important role in the cell cortex integrity and in the structural dynamics of the poorly understood cytoplasm-mitotic spindle interface. F-actin may contribute to the regulatory mechanisms of microtubule-dependent or guided transport of vesicles during mitosis and cytokinesis in higher plant cells.

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