Atomic force microscopy imaging of actin cortical cytoskeleton of Xenopus laevis oocyte


Dr Massimo Santacroce. Tel: +39 02 50315787; fax: +39 02 50315775; e-mail:


In this study we report an atomic force microscopy (AFM) investigation of the actin cortical cytoskeleton of Xenopus laevis oocytes. Samples consisted of inside-out orientated plasma membrane patches of X. laevis oocytes with overhanging cytoplasmic material. They were spread on a freshly cleaved mica surface, subsequently treated with Triton X-100 detergent and chemically fixed. The presence of actin fibres in oocyte patches was proved by fluorescence microscopy imaging. Contact mode AFM imaging was performed in air in constant force conditions. Reproducible high-resolution AFM images of a filamentous structure were obtained. The filamentous structure was identified as an actin cortical cytoskeleton, investigating its disaggregation induced by cytochalasin D treatment. The thinnest fibres showed a height of 7 nm in accordance with the diameter of a single actin microfilament. The results suggest that AFM imaging can be used for the high-resolution study of the actin cortical cytoskeleton of the X. laevis oocyte and its modifications mediated by the action of drugs and toxins.