Myogenesis involves changes in both gene expression and cellular architecture. Little is known of the organization, in muscle in vivo, of the subcellular organelles involved in protein synthesis despite the potential importance of targeted protein synthesis for formation and maintenance of functional domains such as the neuromuscular junction. A panel of antibodies to markers of the ER, the Golgi complex, and the centrosome were used to localize these organelles by immunofluorescence in myoblasts and myotubes of the mouse muscle cell line C2 in vitro, and in intact single muscle fibers from the rat flexor digitorum brevis. Antibodies to the ER stained structures throughout the cytoplasm of both C2 myoblasts and myotubes. In contrast, the spatial relationship between nucleus, centrosome, and Golgi complex was dramatically altered. These changes could also be observed in a low-calcium medium that allowed differentiation while preventing myoblast fusion. Muscle fibers in vivo resembled myotubes except that the ER occupied a smaller volume of cytoplasm and no staining was found for one of the Golgi complex markers, the enzyme alpha-mannosidase II. Electron microscopy, however, clearly showed the presence of stacks of Golgi cisternae in both junctional and extrajunctional regions of muscle fibers. The perinuclear distribution of the Golgi complex was also observed in live muscle fibers stained with a fluorescent lipid. Thus, the distribution of subcellular organelles of the secretory pathway was found to be similar in myotubes and muscle fibers, and all organelles were found in both junctional and extrajunctional areas of muscle.

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