Journal of Muscle Research & Cell Motility

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 333-347

First online:

Heterogeneity of T-tubule geometry in vertebrate skeletal muscle fibres

  • Angela F. DulhuntyAffiliated withDepartment of Anatomy, University of Sydney

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Average dimensions of transverse tubules were obtained from electron micrographs of thin sections of mammalian and amphibian skeletal muscle fibres and the effect of transverse tubule geometry on the electrical characteristics of the fibres has been considered. The preparations examined were toad sartorius, mouse soleus, rat extensor digitorum longus, soleus and sternomastoid muscles. The T-tubule dimensions varied considerably between the different preparations and the average volume to surface ratio of the transverse tubule in amphibian fibres (8.1 nm) was generally greater than that in mammalian fibres (3.0–6.2 nm). The small volume to surface ratio of the mammalian transverse tubule would tend to reduce the electrical space constant of the transverse tubule system and reduce the rate of cross-sectional activation of the fibres during a twitch contraction. The area of transverse tubule membrane in junctional contact with the sarcoplasmic reticulum was determined and was found to be greater in mammalian fibres than in amphibian fibres. The relative areas of junctional contact, along a unit length of transverse tubule, were the same in rat extensor digitorum longus and soleus fibres.