• Fish;
  • Melanophore;
  • Melanosome;
  • Dynein;
  • Myosin V;
  • Actin

In fish melanophores, melanosomes can either aggregate around the cell centre or disperse uniformly throughout the cell. This organelle transport involves microtubule- and actin-dependent motors and is regulated by extracellular stimuli that modulate levels of intracellular cyclic adenosine 3-phosphate (cAMP). We analysed melanosome dynamics in Atlantic cod melanophores under different experimental conditions in order to increase the understanding of the regulation and relative contribution of the transport systems involved. By inhibiting dynein function via injection of inhibitory antidynein IgGs, and modulating cAMP levels using forskolin, we present cellular evidence that dynein is inactivated by increased cAMP during dispersion and that the kinesin-related motor is inactivated by low cAMP levels during aggregation. Inhibition of dynein further resulted in hyperdispersed melanosomes, which subsequently reversed movement towards a more normal dispersed state, pointing towards a peripheral feedback regulation in maintaining the evenly dispersed state. This reversal was blocked by noradrenaline. Analysis of actin-mediated melanosome movements shows that actin suppresses aggregation and dispersion, and indicates the possibility of down-regulating actin-dependent melanosome movement by noradrenaline. Data from immuno-electron microscopy indicate that myosinV is associated with fish melanosomes. Taken together, our study presents evidence that points towards a model where both microtubule- and actin-mediated melanosome transport are synchronously regulated during aggregation and dispersion, and this provides a cell physiological explanation behind the exceptionally fast rate of background adaptation in fish.