The junctional complex in the gill epithelium of the freshwater mussel (Elliptio complanatus) consists of an intermediary junction followed by a 2–3 µ long septate junction. Homologous and heterologous cell pairs are connected by this junction. After fixation with 1% OsO4 containing 1% potassium pyroantimonate, electron microscopy of the gill reveals deposits of electron-opaque precipitate, specifically and consistently localized along cellular membranes. In both junctional and nonjunctional membrane regions, the precipitate usefully outlines the convolutions without obliterating the 150 A intercellular space, which suggests the rarity or absence of either vertebrate-type gap or tight junctions along the entire cell border. The precipitate appears on the cytoplasmic side of the limiting unit membranes of frontal (F), laterofrontal (LF), intermediate (I), lateral (L), and postlateral (PL) cells. The membrane surfaces of certain vesicles of the smooth endoplasmic reticulum, of multivesicular bodies, and of mitochondrial cristae contain precipitate, as does the nucleolus. In other portions of the cell, precipitate is largely absent. The amount of over-all deposition is variable and depends on the treatment of the tissue prior to fixation. Deposition is usually enhanced by pretreatment with 40 mM NaCl as opposed to 40 mM KCl, which suggests that the precipitate is in part sodium pyroantimonate. Treatment with 0.2 mM ouabain does not enhance deposition. Regional differentiation of cell membranes with respect to their ability to precipitate pyroantimonate is found in at least three instances: (a) between the ciliary membranes and other portions of the cell membrane: the precipitate terminates abruptly at the ciliary base, (b) between the LF and I cell borders: the precipitate is asymmetric, favoring the LF side of the junction, and (c) between the septate junctional membrane and adjacent membrane: the precipitate occurs periodically throughout the septate junction region with the periodicity corresponding to the spacing of the septa. This suggests that different regions of the cell membrane may have differing ion permeability properties and, in particular, that the septa may be the regions of high ion permeability in the septate junction.

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