The role of filaments in consistency changes and movement in a motile cytoplasmic extract of Amoeba proteus was investigated by correlating light and electron microscopic observations with viscosity measurements. The extract is prepared by the method of Thompson and Wolpert (1963). At 0°C, this extract is nonmotile and similar in structure to ameba cytoplasm, consisting of groundplasm, vesicles, mitochondria, and a few 160 A filaments. The extract undergoes striking ATP-stimulated streaming when warmed to 22°C. Two phases of movement are distinguished. During the first phase, the apparent viscosity usually increases and numerous 50–70 A filaments appear in samples of the extract prepared for electron microscopy, suggesting that the increase in viscosity in caused, at least in part, by the formation of these thin filaments. During this initial phase of ATP-stimulated movement, these thin filaments are not detectable by phase-contrast or polarization microscopy, but later, in the second phase of movement, 70 A filaments aggregate to form birefringent microscopic fibrils. A preparation of pure groundplasm with no 160 A filaments or membranous organelles exhibits little or no ATP-stimulated movement, but 50–70 A filaments form and aggregate into birefringent fibrils. This observation and the structural relationship of the 70 A and the 160 A filaments in the motile extract suggest that both types of filaments may be required for movement. These two types of filaments, 50–70 A and 160 A, are also present in the cytoplasm of intact amebas. Fixed cells could not be used to study the distribution of these filaments during natural ameboid movement because of difficulties in preserving the normal structure of the ameba during preparation for electron microscopy.

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