Encysting cells of Acanthamoeba castellanii, Neff strain, have been examined with the electron microscope. The wall structure and cytoplasmic changes during encystment are described. The cyst wall is composed of two major layers: a laminar, fibrous exocyst with a variable amount of matrix material, and an endocyst of fine fibrils in a granular matrix. The two layers are normally separated by a space except where they form opercula in the center of ostioles (exits for excysting amebae). An additional amorphous layer is probably present between the wall and the protoplast in the mature cyst. Early in encystment the Golgi complex is enlarged and contains a densely staining material that appears to contribute to wall formation. Vacuoles containing cytoplasmic debris (autolysosomes) are present in encysting cells and the contents of some of the vacuoles are deposited in the developing cyst wall. Lamellate bodies develop in the mitochondria and appear in the cytoplasm. Several changes are associated with the mitochondrial intracristate granule. The nucleus releases small buds into the cytoplasm, and the nucleolus decreases to less than half its original volume. The cytoplasm increases in electron density and its volume is reduced by about 80%. The water expulsion vesicle is the only cellular compartment without dense content in the mature cyst. The volume fractions of lipid droplets, Golgi complex, mitochondria, digestive vacuoles, and autolysosomes have been determined at different stages of encystment by stereological analysis of electron micrographs. By chemical analyses, dry weight, protein, phospholipid, and glycogen are lower and neutral lipid is higher in the mature cyst than in the trophozoite.

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