Polymerized actin has been found aggregated into distinctive patches inside transformed cells in culture. The F-actin-specific fluorescent probe, nitrobenzoxadiazole-phallacidin, labels these F-actin aggregates near the ventral cell surface of cells transformed by RNA or DNA tumor viruses, or by chemical mutagens, or spontaneously. Their appearance in all eight transformed cell types studied suggests their ubiquity and involvement in transformation morphology. Actin patches developed in normal rat kidney (NRK) cells transformed by a temperature-sensitive mutant of Rous sarcoma virus (LA23-NRK) within 30 min after a shift from the nonpermissive (39 degrees C) to the permissive temperature (32 degrees C). Patch appearance paralleling viral src gene expression tends to implicate pp60src kinase activity in destabilizing the cytoskeleton. However, appearance of the actin aggregates in cells not transformed by retrovirus calls for alternative mechanisms, perhaps involving an endogenous kinase, for this apparently common trait.

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