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The effects of taxol on embryonic chick tectum maintained in culture: An electron microscope study

Journal of Ultrastructure Research
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0022-5320(84)80009-x


Tectal explants from chick embryos, established in culture for 2–3 weeks, were exposed to taxol-enriched media for 1–7 days, fixed, and studied by transmission electron microscopy. Taxol treatment resulted in no apparent disruption of the overall integrity of the organization of the explants nor in grossly increased cell death, but caused marked abnormalities of cytoskeletal elements. Intermediate filaments were increased in number in both neuronal and glial cells and very large numbers of microtubules were present, some aligned below the plasma membrane but most as components of large bundles in neuronal cell bodies and processes. Some such microtubules were associated with a network of intermicrotubule substance, consisting of 10-nm filaments running parallel to the microtubules, in hexagonal arrays surrounding individual microtubules, together with a very fine amorphous or filamentous component which was drawn into thread-like structures that linked the larger filaments to one another and formed the sides of the hexagons. Taxol treatment also resulted in the formation of concentric rings of microtubules separated by cylindrical sheets of electron-dense material. These observations extend previous descriptions of the effects of taxol on cytoskeletal elements, add to growing evidence for heterogeneity of microtubules within neurons, and suggest that taxol may be useful in studies of the functions of cytoskeletal elements and of microtubule heterogeneity in neurons.

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