Microcystin‐LR (MCLR) is a commonly encountered blue‐green algal hepatotoxin and a known inhibitor of cellular protein phosphatase types 1 and 2A. The toxin causes alterations in, and redistribution of, intermediate filaments, microtubules, and actin microfilaments (MFs) in affected cells. In this study, the effect of MCLR on the sequence of alterations in MFs and actin‐associated proteins (AAPs) of isolated hepatocytes was examined in an effort to determine whether morphologic changes induced in MFs by microcystins are a result of prior dislocation of AAPs. We studied the effects of MCLR exposure on α‐actinin and talin, two AAPs that play a role in the orientation of the MFs. Primary hepatocytes were incubated with 10 μM MCLR for 0‐64 min. The distribution of actin, α‐actinin, and talin were examined using fluorescence microscopy. MCLR induced similar changes in the distribution of actin and the AAPs. Actin filament redistribution was first observed after 12 min of MCLR exposure, and was characterized by detachment of MFs from the cell periphery, followed by condensation at distinct focal points and progressive collapse into the interior of affected cells. Changes in α‐actinin and talin distribution were first observed after 20 min of toxin exposure. The AAPs appeared to detach from focal contacts on the cytoplasmic surface of the plasma membrane, condense into cytoplasmic aggregates, and ultimately collapse into a juxtanuclear bundle. The results of this study indicate that, in hepatocytes exposed to MCLR, the collapse of actin MFs occurs prior to the dislocation of α‐actinin and talin. Changes in these actin associated proteins are not likely to account for the initial changes in actin MFs. © 1995 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.
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