The effect of various agents that cause metaphase arrest in dividing cells was studied on the rapid reversible darkening of frog skin under the influence of melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH). Darkening is due to dispersion of melanin granules in melanocytes and is thought to be accompanied by a gel-to-sol cytoplasmic transformation. After subsequent washing the skin lightens, with aggregation of melanin granules and cytoplasmic gelation. As previously shown with colchicine, preincubation of frog skin with vinblastine, vincristine, or colcemid produced an increase in darkening induced by MSH, as compared to control skins, and a dosage-dependent inhibition of subsequent lightening. Preincubation with each drug, without subsequent MSH, produced a gradual, irreversible, dosage-dependent darkening over several hours. On a molar basis, the relative strength of the various agents was vinblastine > vincristine > colcemid > colchicine; vinblastine was about 100 times stronger than colchicine. Preincubation of frog skin with griseofulvin, followed by washing, had no subsequent effects on darkening or lightening. However, effects similar to those of the Colchicum and Vinca alkaloids were seen if griseofulvin was kept in the ambient media. These effects were rapidly reversible on removal of the drug from the media. These findings support the melanocyte model originally proposed for the action of colchicine, and emphasize certain facts that models of melanin granule movement will have to accommodate.

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