The cytoplast: A unit structure in chromatophores

Keith R. Porter, Mark A. McNiven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


We followed the translocation of identifiable pigment granules in living erythrophores through normal aggregation and dispersion and observed that they always return in dispersion to the same location relative to the whole pigment complex. This is interpreted to mean that each granule occupies a fixed position within a unit structure, the cytoplast. This position is retained even though the cytoplast undergoes dramatic reversals in form from ellipsoid to spheroid and back again with each aggregation and dispersion. The major structural components of the cytoplast, besides pigment granules, are microtubules and microtrabeculae. The latter constitute an irregular lattice that is confluent with microtubules and contains the pigment granules. In aggregation, the microtrabeculae shorten and seemingly contribute to the contraction of the entire cytoplast plus pigment. In dispersion, the microtrabeculae elongate in an apparent restructuring of the ellipsoidal cytoplast. The microtubules, however, persist in the cell cortex and appear to give radial direction to the pigment motion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-32
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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