During the spreading of a population of rat embryo cells, approximately 40% of the cells develop a strikingly regular network which precedes the formation of the straight actin filament bundles seen in the fully spread out cells. Immunofluorescence studies with antibodies specific for the skeletal muscle structural proteins actin, alpha-actinin, and tropomyosin indicate that this network is composed of foci containing actin and alpha-actinin, connected by tropomyosin-associated actin filaments. Actin filaments, having both tropomyosin and alpha-actinin associated with them, are also seen to extend from the vertices of this network to the edges of the cell. These results demonstrate a specific interaction of alpha-actinin and tropomyosin with actin filaments during the assembly and organization of the actin filament bundles of tissue culture cells. The three-dimensional network they form may be regarded as the structural precursor and the vertices of this network as the organization centers of the ultimately formed actin filament bundles of the fully spread out cells.

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