Terminal webs prepared from mouse intestinal epithelial cells were examined by the quick-freeze, deep-etch, and rotary-replication method. The microvilli of these cells contain actin filaments that extend into the terminal web in compact bundles. Within the terminal web these bundles remain compact; few filaments are separated from the bundles and fewer still bend towards the lateral margins of the cell. Decoration with subfragment 1 (S1) of myosin confirmed that relatively few actin filaments travel horizontally in the web. Instead, between actin bundles there are complicated networks of the fibrils. Here we present two lines of evidence which suggest that myosin is one of the major cross-linkers in the terminal web. First, when brush borders are exposed to 1 mM ATP in 0.3 M KCl, they lose their normal ability to bind antimyosin antibodies as judged by immunofluorescence, and they lose the thin fibrils normally found in deep-etch replicas. Correspondingly, myosin is released into the supernatant as judged by SDS gel electrophoresis. Second, electron microscope immunocytochemistry with antimyosin antibodies followed by ferritin-conjugated second antibodies leads to ferritin deposition mainly on the fibrils at the basal part of rootlets. Deep-etching also reveals that the actin filament bundles are connected to intermediate filaments by another population of cross-linkers that are not extracted by ATP in 0.3 M KCl. From these results we conclude that myosin in the intestinal cell may not only be involved in a short range sliding-filament type of motility, but may also play a purely structural role as a long range cross-linker between microvillar rootlets.

This content is only available as a PDF.