Cytoplasmic streaming in characean algae is thought to be generated by interaction between subcortical actin bundles and endoplasmic myosin. Most of the existing evidence supporting this hypothesis is of a structural rather than functional nature. To obtain evidence bearing on the possible function of actin and myosin in streaming, we used perfusion techniques to introduce a number of contractile and related proteins into the cytoplasm of streaming Chara cells. Exogenous actin added at concentrations as low as 0.1 mg/ml is a potent inhibitor of streaming. Deoxyribonuclease I (DNase I), an inhibitor of amoeboid movement and fast axonal transport, does not inhibit streaming in Chara. Fluorescein-DNase I stains stress cables and microfilaments in mammalian cells but does not bind to Chara actin bundles, thus suggesting that the lack of effect on streaming is due to a surprising lack of DNase I affinity for Chara actin bundles. Heavy meromyosin (HMM) does not inhibit streaming, but fluorescein-HMM (FL-HMM), having a partially disabled EDTA ATPase, does. Quantitative fluorescence micrography provides evidence that inhibition of streaming by FL-HMM may be due to a tendency for FL-HMM to remain bound to Chara actin bundles even in the presence of MgATP. Perfusion with various control proteins, including tubulin, ovalbumin, bovine serum albumin, and irrelevant antibodies, does not inhibit streaming. These results support the hypothesis that actin and myosin function to generate cytoplasmic streaming in Chara.

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