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Gen Physiol Biophys. 2003 Dec;22(4):425-40.

Structure and composition of tubular aggregates of skeletal muscle fibres.

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  • 1Institute of Molecular Physiology and Genetics, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovakia.


Unusual regions of densely packed membranous tubules known as tubular aggregates (TAs) have been observed in skeletal muscle fibres of mammals under numerous pathological conditions but also in health. Their causality is unclear. It is neither known whether TAs are destructive and should be treated or whether they have a compensating function in an endangered muscle. In spite of many similarities, the histochemical, immunocytochemical and ultrastructural characteristics of tubular aggregates do vary. Histochemistry provided an overall characteristic of TAs as membranous inclusions with a variety of enzymatic activities. Immunocytochemical evidence revealed that tubular aggregates contain miscellaneous proteins and that derive from membranes of sarcoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria. No evidence for the presence of contractile and cytoskeletal proteins in TAs was found. Ultrastructurally, TAs are characterized as more or less densely packed aggregates of vesicular or tubular membranes of variable forms and sizes that may contain amorphous material, filaments or inner tubules. Various reported types of tubular aggregates, namely, proliferating terminal cisterns, vesicular membrane collections, TAs with double-walled tubules, TAs with single-walled tubules, aggregates of dilated tubules with inner tubules, aggregates of tubulo-filamentous structures, filamentous tubules, riesentubuli, and related membranous structures including cylindrical spirals are sumarized and analyzed here in detail.

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