Contractile vacuoles (CVs) released from cells of Amoeba proteus were used to analyze its function in vitro. When CV was transferred to a hypertonic medium, its volume decreased within 10 sec. When it was subsequently returned to its original medium, it quickly started swelling. However, it ruptured before recovering its initial volume. These results suggested that the CV membrane is semi-permeable and that the fluid is collected by the osmotic gradient in vivo. The water permeability of membrane of isolated CV was calculated from the rate of osmotic volume change to be 0.94 μm/sec · OsM. This high value suggested that CV membrane is equipped with water channel. CV contracted (or burst) quickly upon addition of 1 mM ATP. Contraction was induced by ATP, but not by other nucleotides, GTP, ITP, ADP, or the analogues of ATP, AMP-PNP and ATPγS. It was suggested that the contraction of isolated CV was caused by increase in the tension of its membrane by ATP.
2004 by Japan Society for Cell Biology