Chapter

The cytoskeleton of the squid giant axon

J. Adjaye and P.A.M. Eagles

in Cephalopod Neurobiology

Published in print April 1995 | ISBN: 9780198547907
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191724299 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198547907.003.0010
The cytoskeleton of the squid giant axon

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This chapter discusses the cytoskeleton of the squid giant axon. The squid giant axon has given invaluable information about the axonal cytoskeleton and has, for decades, provided an unparalleled model for studies on the cytoskeleton. A major feature of the preparations is that the cytoplasm of the axon can be easily removed from the surrounding membrane, and thus pure neuronal axoplasm can be studied, free of contamination from the axolemma and from other cell types. Hundreds of milligrams of axoplasm can be quickly extracted from a single axon, providing enough material in a near native state for conventional biochemistry. It is not surprising, therefore, that studies on the squid giant axon have been pivotal in understanding the structure and function of neurofilaments and microtubules, major elements of this cytoskeleton. The most abundant cytoskeletal component in squid axoplasm is the neurofilament. The neurofilament polypeptides constitute about 13 per cent of the total axoplasmic protein, and most of these molecules (95 per cent) are polymerized into stable structures that do not readily exchange subunits with the environment. The polypeptide structure has been analysed, and the filaments shown to belong to the family of intermediate filaments. They are altered by two post-translational events: proteolysis and phosphorylation. Progress on cloning squid neurofilament genes is described.

Keywords: cytoskeleton; squid giant axon; cloning; squid neurofilament; Neurofilament polypeptides; axoplasm

Chapter.  3983 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neuroscience

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