When 5% dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) was applied to Dictyostelium cells, the cells rounded up in shape and cytoplasmic streaming ceased. The cells resumed both cytoplasmic streaming and locomotion in 20 min. SDS PAGE of isolated plasma membrane fractions showed that actin and myosin apparently became dissociated from the plasma membrane by the action of DMSO. Scanning electron microscopy revealed that many filopodelike projections formed on the surface of cells treated with 5% DMSO for 5 min. Interestingly, the projections were formed on a restricted portion of the cell surface. The phagokinetic track technique of Albrecht-Buehler (1977, Cell, 11: 395-404) showed that the projection region corresponded to the anterior part of a migrating cell. The possible relationship between the DMSO-induced projection region on the cell surface and intracellular organization of cell organelles was investigated using serial thin sections. The DMSO-induced projections contained arrays of microfilaments; and the microtubule organizing center (MTOC), nucleus, and vesicular structure were usually located in this order from the anterior end of the cell. The indirect immunofluorescent study using monoclonal anti-alpha-tubulin antibody was performed with a new fixation technique, which greatly improved the phase as well as immunofluorescent microscopy. It was verified that the intracellular positioning of the MTOC and nucleus had significant correlation with the cell polarity. The results show that DMSO is a powerful tool with which to manipulate the cellular microfilaments and to make visible the differentiation in the cortex layer, which apparently is relevant to the intracellular positioning of cell organelles and cell polarity.

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