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Cell Tissue Res. 1978 Jul 5;190(2):255-71.

Effect of stretch and contraction on caveolae of smooth muscle cells.


The number of caveolae present at the surface of smooth muscle cells of guinea-pig taenia coli and visualized by freeze-fracture is about 35 per micron2. (By comparison, endothelial cells of intramuscular capillaries have about 73 caveolae per micron2). The packing density of smooth muscle caveolae is not significantly different in muscle strips isotonically contracted with carbachol or stretched and relaxed in a calcium-free solution, under a range of loads varying from 1 to 15 g. Also the diameter of the fractured necks of the caveolae appears unchanged in all the experimental conditions tested. The plasma membrane of smooth muscle cells often shows a ring of intramembranous particles rimming the opening of a caveola; on the other hand, particles are rare in the membrane of the caveolae themselves. The close relation between caveolae and sarcoplasmic reticulum is readily visualized in freeze-fracture preparations. Characteristic changes of the cell surface shape accompany the contraction and relaxation of the muscle. On rare occasions small aggregates of intramembranous particles are found and it is possible that they represent punctate gap junctions. However, the characteristic clusters of particles found in the circular musculature of the caecum and ileum are not seen in taenia coli.

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