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J Muscle Res Cell Motil. 1994 Apr;15(2):102-18.

Development of the excitation-contraction coupling apparatus in skeletal muscle: peripheral and internal calcium release units are formed sequentially.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia 19104-6058.


The development of calcium release units and of transverse tubules has been studied in skeletal muscle fibres from embryonal and newborn chicken. Three constituents of calcium release units: the tetrads, the feet and an internal protein directly associated with junctional surface of the sarcoplasmic reticulum are visualized by various electron microscope techniques. Evidence in the literature indicates that the three components correspond to the voltage sensors, the sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium release channels and the calcium binding protein calsequestrin respectively. We recognize two stages at which important events in membrane morphogenesis occur. The first stage coincides with early myofibrillogenesis (starting at approximately embryonal day E5.5), and it involves the assembly of calcium release units at the periphery of the muscle fibre in which feet and the internal protein are identified. Groups of tetrads also are present at very early stages and their disposition indicates a relation to the feet of peripheral couplings. Thus three major components of the excitation-contraction coupling pathway are in place as soon as myofibrils develop. The density of groups of tetrads in the surface membrane of primary and secondary fibres is similar, despite differences in developmental stages. The second stage involves the formation of a complex transverse tubule network and of internal sarcoplasmic reticulum-transverse tubule junctions, while peripheral couplings disappear. This stage starts abruptly (between E15 and E16) and simultaneously in primary and secondary fibres. It coincides with the myotube-to-myofibre transition. The two stages are separated by a relatively long intervening period (between E9 and E16). During the latter part of this period some primitive transverse tubules appear, and form junctions with the sarcoplasmic reticulum, but they remain strictly located at the periphery of the fibre and are not numerous. Finally, after the second stage there is a prolonged (up to 4 weeks) period of maturation, during which density of free sarcoplasmic reticulum increases, triads acquire a location at the A-I junction and fibre type differences appear. We conclude that a system for calcium uptake, storage and release exists at the periphery of the myotube during early myogenesis. The complexity of the system and its ability to deliver calcium through the entire fibre develop in parallel to the formation of myofibrils.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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