Actin pegs and ultrastructure of presumed sensory receptors of Beroƫ (Ctenophora). Academic Article uri icon


  • We have investigated the actin content and ultrastructure of two kinds of presumed sensory projections on the lip epidermis of beroid ctenophores. Transmission electron microscopy showed that conical pegs contain a large bundle of densely packed, parallel microfilaments. Rhodamine-phalloidin brightly stained the pegs, confirming that they contain filamentous actin. Epidermal cells with actin pegs also bear a single long cilium with an onion-root structure, previously described as arising from a different type of cell. The actin peg and onion-root cilium project side-by-side, defining a polarized axis of the cell which is shared by neighboring cells. The onion-root body is surrounded by a flattened membrane sac which lies immediately below the plasma membrane. The perimeter of the membrane sac is encircled by aggregates of dense material. An extra layer of dense material is found along the side of the membrane sac facing the peg; this material often makes direct contact with the adjacent actin filament bundle. Cells with actin pegs and onion-root cilia synapse onto adjacent neurites and secretory gland cells, indicating that one or both types of projections are sensory elements. Since the feeding responses of beroids are reported to depend on chemical and tactile stimuli to the lips, the cells bearing pegs and cilia may function as both mechanoreceptors and chemoreceptors, that is, as double sensory receptors.

publication date

  • April 1991