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Cell Tissue Res. 1975 Aug 25;161(3):421-30.

The sensory cilium of retinal rods is analogous to the transitional zone of motile cilia.


The connecting cilium of rat retinal rods was studied by freeze-fracture and thin-sectioning techniques. Transverse strands of intramembranous particles could be observed on fracture face B on the ciliary plasma membrane. The strands were essentially similar to those found at the transitional zone of motile cilia ("ciliary necklace"). The larger number of intramembranous particles obscured the pattern on fracture face A of the membrane. On longitudinal sections of the cilia, beads showing a periodicity similar to the necklace strands were observed. Each bead consisted of two structures apposed to both sides of the plasma membrane. Transverse sections of the cilia revealed radial Y-shaped structures that connected each ciliary doublet with the plasma membrane. Axial tubules, central sheath, radial spokes and dynein arms were missing in the connecting cilium. Comparing the fine structure of the retinal cilia with that of motile cilia it becomes evident that the connecting cilium is analogous in structure with the transitional zone of motile cilia. The present observations suggest that periodic membrane beads along the plasma membrane on thin sections correspond to strands of necklace particles as observed on freeze-fractured membranes. The arrangement of the particles in transverse strands is probably ensured by the radial connecting structures.

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