Horseradish peroxidase (HRP) was used as a marker to study the effects of microtubule-disruptive drugs on uptake and cellular inactivation of exogenous material in cultures of embryonic chick chondrocytes. HRP was ingested by fluid endocytosis, and intracellular enzyme activity subsequently diminished exponentially with time. Cytochemically, reaction product for HRP was found in vesicles often located close to the dictyosomes of the Golgi complex. Colchicine and vinblastine caused disappearance of cytoplasmic microtubules and disorganization of the Golgi complex with concomitant reduction in the cellular uptake of HRP to about half of that in the controls. Lumicolchicine, on the other hand, left cell fine structure and HRP uptake unaffected. These results indicate that microtubules are of considerable importance in the process of fluid endocytosis in cultured chondrocytes although the exact mechanism remains to be elucidated. The rate of intracellular inactivation of ingested HRP was not affected by colchicine or vinblastine. Double-labeling experiments with colloidal thorium dioxide and HRP likewise indicated that fusion of endocytic vesicles and lysosomes is not dependent on intact microtubules. The total specific activities of the three lysosomal enzymes examined were weakly or not at all changed by treatment of the cultures with colchicine or vinblastine. It therefore seems unlikely that microtubular organization plays an important role in the production or degradation of lysosomal enzymes in cultured chondrocytes.

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