Microtubule breakdown in the presence of 5 or 40 µg/ml of colchicine is observed in BHK-21/C13 fibroblast-like cells. Several morphological and physiological effects are noted in the absence of microtubules: (a) the cells transform from fibroblast-like to epithelial-like cells; (b) the normal pattern of intracellular birefringence changes and a juxtanuclear cap of birefringent filaments is formed; (c) time-lapse cinematography demonstrates that cell locomotion is inhibited in colchicine-treated cells, even though membrane ruffling persists. The results are discussed in terms of the specific roles of microtubules in cultured cell motility and possible functional relationships of the three types of cytoplasmic fibers seen in BHK-21 cells.
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