Journal of Muscle Research & Cell Motility

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 297–311 | Cite as

The ‘catch’ mechanism in molluscan muscle: an electron microscopy study of freeze-substituted anterior byssus retractor muscle ofMytilus edulis

  • Pauline M. Bennett
  • Arthur Elliott
Papers

Summary

A method for quick-freezing muscles while observing their mechanical properties until the moment of freezing is described. This method was used to freeze the anterior byssus retractor muscle (ABRM) ofMytilus edulis. Intact muscle in the presence of sucrose as a cryoprotectant was freeze-substituted in acetone, fixed and embedded for electron microscopy. ABRM was frozen in a number of mechanical states including ‘catch’, the state of high passive tension particularly associated with some molluscan muscles. Transverse sections were examined to determine the distribution of filaments in the muscle cells. In the relaxed muscle thick and thin filaments are fairly randomly distributed. Groups of thin filaments and of thick filaments are often seen, and there is no obvious association between the two types of filaments. In contrast, in rigor muscles, both glycerol-extracted and intact, most of the thin filaments were found to lie in rings or rosettes around the thick filaments. In some places bridges between thick and thin filaments could be distinguished. In actively contracting muscle (phasic contraction) the appearance is intermediate between that of the relaxed and rigor muscles. Many thick filaments are surrounded by rosettes of thin filaments but many of the thin filaments are grouped and have no connections with thick filaments. The ‘catch’ state, left after a period of tonic contraction, is similar in its distributrion of thick and thin filaments to the active state, many of the thin filaments lying between the thick. Frequently thick and thin filaments seem to be closer together than in other states of the muscle where a pronounced exclusion zone is present around the thick filaments. There is no evidence for association between the thick filaments.

The different distribution of thin filaments in the different states is consistent with the previously described X-ray diffraction data if it is assumed that most of the contribution to the equatorial reflection at 12 nm comes from the groups of thin filaments. Our data support a model for catch in which there is a change in the association between thick and thin filaments, rather than one in which thick filaments are clumped.

Keywords

Mechanical State Transverse Section Electron Microscopy Study Thin Filament High Passive 

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Copyright information

© Chapman and Hall Ltd. 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pauline M. Bennett
    • 1
  • Arthur Elliott
    • 1
  1. 1.MRC Cell Biophysics Unit and Department of Biophysics, Cell and Molecular BiologyKing's College LondonLondonUK

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