Elaborations of the basal surface of the cells of the Malpighian tubules of an insect
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Electrical measurements of membrane potential and resistance using intracellular microelectrodes showed that the fluid-secreting parts of the Malpighian tubules of Rhodnius have superficial regions different in electrical properties from the main body of the cell. The membrane potential in these superficial regions was smaller by 30-40 mV, but showed a standard depolarization on changing the potassium concentration of the bathing medium. The response to changes in the external chloride concentration also differed in the two regions, a finding that was reinforced by different responses to the drug, furosemide. Electron microscopy of the basal regions of the cells revealed many long cellular projections that run parallel to the cell surface and interdigitate with similar projections from neighbouring cells. The degree of interdigitation was examined by marking individual cells with alcian blue or by horseradish peroxidase injection. A survey of the published micrographs of insect Malpighian tubules shows that most have similar projections on their basal surfaces and not the simple basal infoldings previously supposed.
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