Pigment migration in cultured erythrophores of the squirrel fish Holocentrus ascensionis, after manipulation with K+, epinephrine, 3',5'-dibutyryl cyclic adenosine monophosphate, theophylline, and caffeine, is essentially identical to that observed in this chromatophore in situ. For such observations, the erythrophores are dissociated from the scales with hyaluronidase and collagenase, and allowed to spread on an amorphous collagen substrate, where they resemble the discoid erythrophore in situ. In this state, they are readily fixed by glutaraldehyde and osmium tetroxide, and are then critical-point dried for whole-cell viewing in the high voltage electron microscope. The organization and fine structure of the erythrophore cytoplast was stereoscopically examined after fixation of the pigment granules in four experimental states: pigment dispersed, pigment aggregated, pigment aggregating, and pigment dispersing. In the dispersed cell, granules are contained in an extensive three-dimensional lattice composed of radially oriented microtubules and a network of fine filaments 3-6 nm in diameter (microtrabeculae), whereas in the aggregated cell, the microtrabecular system is absent, and the majority of the microtubules appear displaced into the cortices on the cytoplasmic surface of the plasma membrane. In cells fixed while aggregating, few microtrabeculae are observed, although formless thickenings are observed in the cortices, on granules, and between clumped granules. In dispersing cells, the microtrabecular system is reformed from material stored in the cortices and with the granules in the centrosphere. These observations suggest that the granules are suspended in a dynamic microtrabecular system that withdraws during pigment aggregation and is restructured during pigment dispersion. The microtubules guide linear granule motion not by defining physical channels, but by a recognizable affinity of microtubules, microtrabeculae, and granules for one another.

This content is only available as a PDF.