Abstract

It is generally accepted that a circumferential microtubule supports the discoid shape of resting platelets. The fate of the many-coiled polymer following platelet activation, however, has been a subject of considerable debate. Morphological investigations have suggested that the circumferential coils are constricted into tight rings around centrally concentrated organelles during platelet shape change. Biochemical studies employing colchicine-binding assays, on the other hand, have indicated that the bundle of microtubules dissolves almost completely within seconds after activation and reassembles in a new location one to four minutes later. The present study has accepted the latter hypothesis in order to examine the second part of the disassembly-reassembly theory proposed in biochemical studies. Platelets exposed to low temperatures sufficient to remove all microtubules were placed on glass slides and microscope grids to cause surface activation during rewarming. The combined stimuli of rewarming and surface activation might have been expected to cause more rapid assembly than warming alone or activation alone. This was not the case. Reassembly of microtubules during rewarming and simultaneous surface activation was not accelerated. In contrast to the constriction of microtubule rings observed during activation in control platelets, the diameters of coils that developed in chilled platelets one to two hours after rewarming and surface activation were twice those of control cells.

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