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Actin and Septin Ultrastructures at the Budding Yeast Cell Cortex

The American Society for Cell Biology
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Budding yeast has been a powerful model organism for studies of the roles of actin in endocytosis and septins in cell division and in signaling. However, the depth of mechanistic understanding that can be obtained from such studies has been severely hindered by a lack of ultrastructural information about how actin and septins are organized at the cell cortex. To address this problem, we developed rapid-freeze and deep-etch techniques to image the yeast cell cortex in spheroplasted cells at high resolution. The cortical actin cytoskeleton assembles into conical or mound-like structures composed of short, cross-linked filaments. The Arp2/3 complex localizes near the apex of these structures, suggesting that actin patch assembly may be initiated from the apex. Mutants in cortical actin patch components with defined defects in endocytosis disrupted different stages of cortical actin patch assembly. Based on these results, we propose a model for actin function during endocytosis. In addition to actin structures, we found that septin-containing filaments assemble into two kinds of higher order structures at the cell cortex: rings and ordered gauzes. These images provide the first high-resolution views of septin organization in cells.

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