We have used several methods to localise actin associated with plasmodesmata. In meristematic plant material fixed in 0.1% glutaraldehyde/1% paraformaldehyde and embedded in LR White resin, actin was localised (in TEM using 5 nm gold-labelled secondary antibody to C-4 anti-actin primary antibody) in the neck region by the plasma membrane and endoplasmic reticulum, and also down the length of the plasmodesma, deep in the cell wall. When the chemical fixation was replaced by rapid freezing in liquid propane (without cryoprotectants) and substitution in acetone, the plasmodesmata were labelled in similar positions, but with less background label on sections. While only 8-20% of plasmodesmata were labelled, the label was 10 to 100 fold denser over plasmodesmata than over the surrounding wall indicating specific association with plasmodesmata. We presume the apparent extracellular location of some label was due to the size of the antibodies between the site of attachment and the observed position of the gold particle. Gold label was found in similar locations in material fixed in 3% paraformaldehyde, infiltrated with sucrose, frozen, sectioned (10-12 mu m thick), then labelled with antibodies before resin embedding. Furthermore, cell walls in epidermal peels stained with rhodamine-phalloidin showed localised patches of fluorescence, presumably at the site of plasmodesmata (or primary pit-fields), which were connected on either side to fluorescent strands of actin in the cytoplasm. Suspension cultured cells of Nicotiana plumbaginifolia similarly stained showed very faint, narrow fluorescent strands crossing the walls of sister cells, which may indicate actin associated with individual plasmodesmata, shown in TEM to be sparsely distributed in these walls. In addition, the neck regions of cytochalasin-treated plasmodesmata were greatly enlarged and lacked the normal extracellular ring of particles. We propose that actin associated with plasmodesmata stabilizes the neck region and possibly also the cytoplasmic sleeve, and may be actively involved in regulating cell-to-cell transport.
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