Morphology, Ultrastructure and Contractile Properties of Muscles Responsible for Superior Tentacle Movements of the Snail


Bending, twitching and quivering are different types of tentacle movements observed during olfactory orientation of the snail. Three recently discovered special muscles, spanning along the length of superior tentacles from the tip to the base, seem to be responsible for the execution of these movements. In this study we have investigated the ultrastructure, contractile properties and protein composition of these muscles. Our ultrastructural studies show that smooth muscle fibers are loosely embedded in a collagen matrix and they are coupled with long sarcolemma protrusions. The muscle fibers apparently lack organized SR and transverse tubular system. Instead subsarcolemmal vesicles and mitochondria have been shown to be possible Ca2+ pools for contraction. It was shown that external Ca2+ is required for contraction elicited by high (40 mM) K+ or 10−4 M ACh. Caffeine (5 mM) induced contraction in Ca2+-free solution suggesting the presence of a substantial intracellular Ca2+ pool. High-resolution electrophoretic analysis of columellar and tentacular muscles did not reveal differences in major contractile proteins, such as actin, myosin and paramyosin. Differences were observed however in several bands representing presumably regulatory enzymes. It is concluded that, the ultrastructural, biochemical and contractile properties of the string muscles support their special physiological function.


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Correspondence to T. Kiss.

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Presented during the 12th ISIN Symposium on Invertebrate Neurobiology, August 31–September 4, 2011, Tihany, Hungary.

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Krajcs, N., Márk, L., Elekes, K. et al. Morphology, Ultrastructure and Contractile Properties of Muscles Responsible for Superior Tentacle Movements of the Snail. BIOLOGIA FUTURA 63, 129–140 (2012).

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  • String muscles
  • Helix
  • ultrastructure
  • contractile properties
  • contractile proteins