Although acidification of phagocytic vacuoles has received a broadened interest with the development of pH-sensitive fluorescent probes to follow the pH changes of vacuoles and acidic vesicles in living cells, the mechanism responsible for the acidification of such vacuoles still remains in doubt. In previous studies of the digestive vacuole system in the ciliate Paramecium caudatum we observed and described a unique population of apparently nonlysosomal vesicles that quickly fused with the newly released vacuole before the vacuole became acid and before lysosomes fused with the vacuole. In this paper we report the following: (a) these vesicles, named acidosomes, are devoid of acid phosphatase; (b) these vesicles accumulate neutral red as well as acridine orange, two observations that demonstrate their acid content; (c) cytochalasin B given 15 s after exposure of the cells to indicator dye-stained yeast will inhibit the acidification of yeast-containing vacuoles; and that (d) we observed using electron microscopy, that fusion of acidosomes with the vacuole is inhibited by cytochalasin B. We conclude that the mechanism for acidification of phagocytic vacuoles in Paramecium resides, at least partially if not entirely, in the acidosomes.

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