The mechanism controlling the perpendicular elongation of embryonic muscle cells exposed to a small applied electric field has been studied using a pharmacological approach. Inhibition of the inositol phosphate second messenger system, of calcium entry and of microfilament polymerisation all prevented perpendicular elongation. A model involving strengthened adhesion asymmetrically along the cathodal-facing side of round myoblasts and incorporating the above requirements is proposed to explain electric field-induced perpendicular differentiation. Some asymmetry of organelles is described also, with ribosomes, yolk granules and actin filaments all predominantly found on the anodal side of myoblasts.

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