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Some ultrastructural observations on the mode of association of microtubules with the plasmalemma in epidermal tendon cells of the river crab

Biology of the Cell
Wiley Blackwell (Blackwell Publishing)
Publication Date
  • Microtubule
  • Cytoskeleton
  • Crab Muscle
  • Epidermal Tendon Cell
  • Plasmalemmal Undercoat
  • Electron Microscopy


Abstract The ultrastructural aspects of the association of microtubules (MTs) with the plasmalemma in epidermal tendon cells of the river crab, Polamon dehaani, were studied by thin-section electron microscopy combined with detergent treatment. In the tendon cell, MTs were linked laterally by anchoring filaments to the plasmalemma via a submembranous electron-dense layer called the plasmalemmal undercoat. To further clarify how such anchoring filaments are spatially related to the plasmalemma through the undercoat, we carefully examined and compared thin-section images obtained from various specimen preparations using saponin and Triton X-100. When the tissues were treated with saponin or Triton, electron-dense materials in the undercoat were extracted in varying degrees to expose internal substructures. The undercoat appeared to show a two-layer organization, the inner and outer layers. In more extracted samples, filamentous networks became prominent in the outer layer. Anchoring filaments were seen to attach to such filamentous networks, which in turn were linked to the plasmalemma proper. Thus, it may be reasonable to consider that the filamentous network constitutes the core structure of the plasmalemmal undercoat which is structurally reinforced by extractable electron-dense materials.

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