Contribution of the cytoskeleton to mechanosensitivity reported by dinoflagellate bioluminescence

Stires, JC, Latz MI.  2018.  Contribution of the cytoskeleton to mechanosensitivity reported by dinoflagellate bioluminescence. Cytoskeleton. 75:12-21.

Date Published:



2,3-butanedione monoxime, actin cytoskeleton, actin filaments, atomic-force microscopy, cell biology, cell-shape, flagellar apparatus, fluid shear-stress, Lingulodinium, lingulodinium-polyedrum, mechanical-properties, mechanosensitivity, microtubule cytoskeleton, microtubules, pyrocystis-lunula


The cytoskeleton is crucial to cell mechanics and sensing the extracellular physical environment. The objective of this study was to examine the role of the cortical cytoskeleton in mechanosensitivity in a unicellular protist, the marine dinoflagellate Lingulodinium polyedra, using its intrinsic bioluminescence as a rapid reporter of mechanotransduction. Pharmacological treatments resolved effects due to immediate cytoskeleton disruption from those due to cytoskeletal remodeling during the light to dark phase transition. The cytoskeleton was visualized by confocal laser scanning microscopy of immunohistochemically labeled microtubules and phalloidin labeled F-actin, and mechanosensitivity assessed based on the bioluminescence response to mechanical stimulation measured during the dark phase. Latrunculin B treatment after the transition from the light to dark phase resulted in some disruption of cortical F-actin, no observed effect on the cortical microtubules, and partial inhibition of the bioluminescence response. Treatment with oryzalin, which depolarizes microtubules, completely disrupted the microtubule network and cortical F-actin, and partially inhibited bioluminescence. These results demonstrate that cells retain some mechanosensitivity despite a disrupted cytoskeleton; link mechanosensitivity to intact F-actin; show a close connection between F-actin and microtubules comprising the cortical cytoskeleton; confirm a strong contribution of the actin cytoskeleton to the translocation of scintillons, vesicles containing the luminescent chemistry; and support the role of the actin cytoskeleton in the association of scintillons with the vacuole membrane.