When specimens of Actinosphaerium nucleofilum are placed at 4°C, the axopodia retract and the birefringent core (axoneme) of each axopodium disappears. In fixed specimens, it has been shown that this structure consists of a highly patterned bundle of microtubules, each 220 A in diameter; during cold treatment these microtubules disappear and do not reform until the organisms are removed to room temperature. Within a few minutes after returning the specimens to room temperature, the axonemes reappear and the axopodia begin to reform reaching normal length 30–45 min later. In thin sections of cells fixed during the early stages of this recovery period, microtubules, organized in the pattern of the untreated specimens, are found in each reforming axopodium. Reforming axopodia without birefringent axonemes (and thus without microtubules) are never encountered. From these observations we conclude that the microtubules may be instrumental not only in the maintenance of the axopodia but also in their growth. Thus, if the microtubules are destroyed, the axopodia should retract and not reform until these tubular units are reassembled. During the cold treatment short segments of a 340-A tubule appeared; when the organisms were removed from the cold, these tubular segments disappeared. It seems probable that they are one of the disintegration products of the microtubules. A model is presented of our interpretation of how a 220-A microtubule transforms into a 340-A tubule and what this means in terms of the substructure of the untreated microtubules.

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