Heterogeneous populations of microsomes obtained from normal and dystrophic chicken pectoralis muscle were separated into two subfractions by an iterative loading technique. The buoyant density of the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) microsomes was increased after loading them with calcium oxalate. Several incubations in the transport medium were necessary to load all of the SR. The fraction that did not form a pellet contained microsomes which displayed freeze-fracture faces that had a low density of particles. A stereological analysis was used on membrane fracture faces of intact muscle to generate reference particle density distributions, which were compared with the distributions measured on the microsomal fracture faces. The concave microsomal fracture faces of purified microsomes which did not load calcium oxalate had particle distributions nearly identical to the distributions of intact P-face T tubules. The morphological data suggest that this subfraction is microsomal T system. Biochemical measurements show negligible amounts of specific Na+, K+-ATPase activity, suggesting that there was little contamination from the surface membrane in this subfraction. Furthermore, an active Ca2+-ATPase is demonstrated in both normal and dystrophic T-tubular membranes.

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