Ultrastructure and function of nurse cells in phthirapterans. Possible function of ramified nurse cell nuclei in the cytoplasm transfer

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2001
Authors:M. Zelazowska, Biliński S. M.
Journal:Arthropod Structure and Development
Pagination:135 - 143
Date Published:2001
Keywords:Cytoplasm transfer, Cytoskeleton, Nurse cells, OOGENESIS, Polytrophic ovary

The structure of nurse cells as well as the distribution of cytoskeletal elements (actin filaments, microtubules) in three representatives of phthirapterans: the pig louse, Haematopinus sids (Anoplura) and bird lice, Eomenacanthus stramineus, Columbicola columbae (Mallophaga) were investigated. All three species have polytrophic-meroistic ovaries which means that each oocyte remains connected with a group of nurse cells via specialized cytoplasmic canals-intercellular bridges (ring canals). Throughout vitellogenesis, various macromolecules as well as organelles (mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum vesicles, ribosomes) are transferred from the nurse cells to the oocyte. During this flow, the nurse cell nuclei do not enter the oocyte and are retained in the cell centers. In holometabolous insects (e.g. Drosophila, hymenopterans), the central position of nurse cell nuclei is maintained by cytoskeletal elements (actin filaments or microtubules). In the investigated species, the nurse cells are equipped with large, highly extended (irregularly lobed) nuclei. The inner nuclear membrane is lined with a relatively thick layer of nuclear lamina. Ultrastructural analysis and staining with rhodamine-labeled phalloidin revealed that the nurse cell cytoskeleton is poorly developed and represented only by: (1) single microtubules in the perinuclear cytoplasm, and (2) the F-actin layer in the cortical cytoplasm. In the light of this, we postulate that in phthirapterans the position of nurse cell nuclei during the cytoplasm transfer is maintained not by the cytoskeletal elements, but by a largely extended shape of the nuclei (i.e. their elongated extensions).

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