1. The structure and distribution of the components of striated muscle cells vary with the species and with the specialization of muscle fiber function.
2. There appear to be two, easily distinguishable, general categories of striated muscle structure.
A. High frequency muscle (represented by flight muscle of higher insects and hummingbird, and cicada tympanal muscle) is characterized by widely spaced, non-branching fibrils of large diameter and short period, little endoplasmic reticulum, and large quantities of large mitochondria (low fibril-sarcoplasm ratio). This structure is correlated with heavy tracheolization or vascularization, high oxidative activity, and dark color as compared with other muscles of the same species.
B. Low frequency muscle is characterized, in general, by high fibril-sarcoplasm ratio, relatively long period, few mitochondria increasing with activity and decreasing with absolute power of the fiber. Oxidative capacity and color are proportional to the quantity of mitochondria. These fibers are further differentiated into (a) fibrillar arrangement of contractile material which permits a regular pattern of interfibrillar and segmental reticulum, and (b) afibrillar arrangement of contractile material leading to an unsystematic distribution of reticulum.
3. The endoplasmic reticulum appears as a complex coordination system in the muscle fiber. Peripherally, it links the Z and M lines of the fibrils to the sarcolemma and between the fibrils it links the cross-bands, forming the Grundmembran of earlier authors. By longitudinal linkage, it connects with the sarcolemma at the muscle extremity to form a digital arrangement into which the tendon fibrils are spliced. The extent of its development and its position have a definite relationship to the degree and site of fiber shortening. At present the reticulum is the only structure that one can consider to be an internal conducting system. It may distribute the excitation transversely from fibril to fibril, and lengthwise saltatorially to the symmetry centers of the sarcomeres.
4. The nucleus is the mediating element between the cytoplasmic phases within and without the tubular system of the endoplasmic reticulum. A possible mechanism which correlates nucleus, adenylic acid system, ion exchange, and reticulum with the initiation of contraction is postulated.