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The relation between excitation-contraction coupling and fine structure of a molluscan muscle, the radular retractor of the whelk, Buccinum undatum.

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • I. D. Nelson
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>07/1994
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Comparative Physiology B
Issue number3
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)229-237
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The Buccinum radula is of the rachiglossate type with two outer rows of fierce hook-like attack teeth and a medial row of straight sharp-pointed shredding teeth. Individual cells of the radular retractor muscle are 10–12 m in diameter and separated at the closest by gaps of only 40 nm, providing areas of potential electrical contact. The cell membranes are heavily invested with long finger-like invaginations, associated with sarcoplasmic reticular cisternae, and surface caveolae; the latter are associated with the numerous dense body membrane attachment plaques found in this muscle. The radular retractor muscle possesses a significant sarcoplasmic reticulum of peripheral cisternae and deeper vesicles associated with mitochondria. The surface caveolae may result from myofilament force exerted via attachment plaques at the cell membrane, while deeper invaginations may constitute a rudimentary transverse tubular system to relay surface depolarization to associated sarcoplasmic reticular cisternae inducing calcium release to effect excitation-contraction coupling. The radular retractor muscle possesses the usual thick paramyosin and thin actin myofilaments, the latter associated with dense bodies and attachment plaques presumably to transduce force to the cell membrane. The mitochondria are unusually large and packed into dense central clusters surrounded by large deposits of glycogen granules. The nerve endings on the radular retractor muscle fibres show four different types of transmitter vesicle, presumably related to the four kinds of agonist action in this muscle, cholinergic, serotonergic, peptidergic and purinergic. All nerve endings have mixed vesicle populations, clear evidence of co-transmission. In this muscle we see a modification of usual smooth muscle structure to effect fast sustained contractions, an ultrastructural configuration functionally designed for the muscle's central role in the feeding cycle.