To examine the role in neurite growth of actin-mediated tensions within growth cones, we cultured chick embryo dorsal root ganglion cells on various substrata in the presence of cytochalasin B. Time-lapse video recording was used to monitor behaviors of living cells, and cytoskeletal arrangements in neurites were assessed via immunofluorescence and electron microscopic observations of thin sections and whole, detergent-extracted cells decorated with the S1 fragment of myosin. On highly adhesive substrata, nerve cells were observed to extend numerous (though peculiarly oriented) neurites in the presence of cytochalasin, despite their lack of both filopodia and lamellipodia or the orderly actin networks characteristic of typical growth cones. We concluded that growth cone activity is not necessary for neurite elongation, although actin arrays seem important in mediating characteristics of substratum selectivity and neurite shape.

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