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Stable actin structures play important roles in the development and specialization of differentiated cells. How these structures form, are organized, and are used to mediate physiological processes is not well understood in most cases. In Drosophila testis, stable actin structures, called actin cones, mediate spermatid individualization, a large-scale cellular remodeling process. These actin cones are composed of two structural domains, a front meshwork and a rear region of parallel bundles. Myosin VI is an important player in proper actin cone organization and function. Myosin VI localizes to the cones' fronts and its specific localization is required for proper actin cone formation and function during individualization. To understand how these structures are organized and assembled, ultrastructural studies are important to reveal both organization of actin and the precise localization of actin regulators relative to regions with different filament organizations. In the present work, we have developed a novel pre-embedding immunogold-silver labeling method for high-resolution analysis of protein distribution in actin structures which allowed both satisfactory antibody labeling and good ultrastructural preservation. Electron microscopic studies revealed that myosin VI accumulated at the extreme leading edge of the actin cone and preferentially localized throughout the front meshwork of the cone where branched actin filaments were most concentrated. No myosin VI labeling was found adjacent to the membranes along the length of the cone or connecting neighboring cones. This method has potential to reveal important information about precise relationships between actin-binding proteins, membranes, and different types of actin structures.


Author version after review. Copyright © Springer Verlag 2011. Published in final form in Protoplasma 2012 Apr;249(2):337-46. doi: 10.1007/s00709-011-0284-3

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