Dense-cored membranous structures in smooth muscle cells of the vas deferens of the rat
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Smooth muscle cells from rat vas deferens were studied by electron microscopy. Vesicular and tubular membranous structures containing an electron-opaque material were found in the smooth muscle cells. Similar structures were also found in a subfraction (F3) of microsomes of vas deferens smooth muscle which was shown to be rich in both plasma membrane and putative endoplasmic reticulum markers. Treatment of the tissues with calcium-free Krebs solution containing EGTA prior to fixation eliminated almost completely the presence of these dense-cored membranous structures (DMS), whereas incubation of the subcellular membrane fraction with EGTA solution had no effect on the appearance of the DMS. Plasma membrane infoldings were found in the smooth muscle cells extending well into their interior. Horseradish peroxidase penetrates vesicles in a location similar to that of DMS in smooth muscle cells, suggesting that some of the DMS may be connected to the extracellular space. We conclude that the dense-core material within the DMS is calcium dependent. We also suggest that some of the DMS represent infoldings of the plasma membrane extending into the cell's interior.
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