Life and Medical Sciences
Cell & Developmental Biology
Wiley InterScience Backfile Collection 1832-2000
The locomotor function of the caudal muscle cells of ascidian larvae is identical with that of lower vertebrate somatic striated (skeletal) muscle fibers, but other features, including the presence of transverse myomuscular junctions, an active Golgi apparatus, a single nucleus, and partial innervation, are characteristic of vertebrate myocardial cells.Seven stages in the development of the compound ascidian Distaplia occidentalis were selected for an ultrastructural study of caudal myogenesis. A timetable of development and differentiation was obtained from cultures of isolated embryos in vitro.The myoblasts of the neurulating embryo are yolky, undifferentiated cells. They are arranged in two bands between the epidermis and the notochord in the caudal rudiment and are actively engaged in mitosis.Myoblasts of the caudate embryo continue to divide and rearrange themselves into longitudinal rows so that each cell simultaneously adjoins the epidermis and the notochord. The formation of secretory granules by the Golgi apparatus coincides with the onset of proteid-yolk degradation and the accumulation of glycogen in the ground cytoplasm.Randomly oriented networks of thick and thin myofilaments appear in the peripheral sarcoplasm of the muscle cells of the comma embryo. Bridges interconnect the thick and thin myofilaments (actomyosin bridges) and the thick myofilaments (H-bridges), but no banding patterns are evident. The sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR), derived from evaginations of the nuclear envelope, forms intimate associations (peripheral couplings) with the sarcolemma.Precursory Z-lines are interposed between the networks of myofilaments in the vesiculate embryo, and the nascent myofibrils become predominantly oriented parallel to the long axis of the muscle cell.Muscle cells of the papillate embryo contain a single row of cortical myofibrils. Myofibrils, already spanning the length of the cell, grow only in diameter by the apposition of myofilaments. The formation of transverse myomuscular junctions begins at this stage, but the differentiating junctions are frequently oriented obliquely rather than orthogonally to the primary axes of the myofibrils.With the appearance of H-bands and M-lines, a single perforated sheet of sarcoplasmic reticulum is found centered on the Z-line and embracing the I-band. The sheet of SR establishes peripheral couplings with the sarcolemma.In the prehatching tadpole, a second collar of SR, centered on the M-line and extending laterally to the boundaries with the A-bands, is formed. A single perforated sheet surrounds the myofibril but is discontinuous at the side of the myofibril most distant from the sarcolemma. To produce the intricate architecture of the fully differentiated collar in the swimming tadpole (J. Morph., 138: 349, 1972). the free ends of the sheet must elevate from the surface of the myofibril, recurve, and extend peripherally toward the sarcolemma to establish peripheral couplings.Morphological changes in the nucleus, nucleolus, mitochondria, and Golgi bodies are described, as well as changes in the ground cytoplasmic content of yolk, glycogen, and ribosomes.The volume of the differentiating cells, calculated from the mean cellular dimensions, and analyses of cellular shape are presented, along with schematic diagrams of cells in each stage of caudal myogenesis. In an attempt to quantify the differences observed ultrastructurally, calculations of the cytoplasmic volume occupied by the mqjor classes of organelles are included.Comparison is made with published accounts on differentiating vertebrate somatic striated and cardiac muscles.
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