The electron microscope was used to investigate the first 10 days of differentiation of the SR and the T system in skeletal muscle cultured from the breast muscle of 11-day chick embryos. The T-system tubules could be clearly distinguished from the SR in developing muscle cells fixed with glutaraldehyde and osmium tetroxide. Ferritin diffusion confirmed this finding: the ferritin particles were found only in the tubules identified as T system. The proliferation of both membranous systems seemed to start almost simultaneously at the earliest myotube stage. Observations suggested that the new SR membranes developed from the rough-surfaced ER as tubular projections. The SR tubules connected with one another to form a network around the myofibril. The T-system tubules were formed by invagination of the sarcolemma. The early extension of the T system by branching and budding was seen only in subsarcolemmal regions. Subsequently the T-system tubules could be seen deep within the muscle cells. Immediately after invaginating, the T-system tubule formed, along its course, specialized connections with the SR or ER: triadic structures showing various degrees of differentiation. The simultaneous occurrence of myofibril formation and membrane proliferation is considered to be important in understanding the coordinated events resulting in the differentiated myotube.

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