Monospecific antibodies to chicken gizzard actin, alpha-actinin, and filamin have been used to localize these proteins at the ultrastructural level: secondary cultures of 14-d-old chicken embryo lung epithelial cells and chicken heart fibroblasts were briefly lysed with either a 0.5% Triton X-100/0.25% glutaraldehyde mixture, or 0.1% Triton X-100, fixed with 0.5% glutaraldehyde, and further permeabilized with 0.5% Triton X-100, to allow penetration of the gold-conjugated antibodies. After immunogold staining (De Mey, J., M. Moeremans, G. Geuens, R. Nuydens, and M. De Brabander, 1981, Cell Biol. Int. Rep. 5:889-899), the cells were postfixed in glutaraldehyde-tannic acid and further processed for embedding and thin sectioning. This approach enabled us to document the distribution of alpha-actinin and filamin either on the delicate cortical networks of the cell periphery or in the densely bundled stress fibers and polygonal nets. By using antiactin immunogold staining as a control, we were able to demonstrate the applicability of the method to the microfilament system: the label was distributed homogeneously over all areas containing recognizable microfilaments, except within very thick stress fibers, where the marker did not penetrate completely. Although alpha-actinin specific staining was homogeneously localized along loosely-organized microfilaments, it was concentrated in the dense bodies of stress fibers. The antifilamin-specific staining showed a typically spotty or patchy pattern associated with the fine cortical networks and stress fibers. This pattern occurred along all actin filaments, including the dense bodies also marked by anti-alpha-actinin antibodies. The results confirm and extend the data from light microscopic investigations and provide more information on the structural basis of the microfilament system.

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