High-resolution electron microscopy is integrated with physicochemical methods in order to investigate the following preparations of the giant nerve fibers of the squid (Loligo pealii L.): (1) Thin sections of fibers fixed in four different fixatives; (2) fresh axoplasm stained negatively in solutions of different pH and composition; (3) chemically isolated threadlike elements of the axoplasm. A continuous, three-dimensional network can be identified in all these preparations of the axoplasm. The network is composed of coiled or looped unit-filaments ∼30 A wide. The unit-filaments are intercoiled in strands ∼ 70–250 A wide. The strands are oriented longitudinally in the axoplasm, often having a sinuous course and cross-associations. Microtubules are surrounded by intercoiled unit-filaments and filamentous strands. Calcium ions cause loosening and disintegration of the network configuration. UO2++ ions of a 1% uranyl acetate solution at pH 4.4 display a specific affinity for filamentous protein structures of the squid giant nerve fiber axoplasm, segregating the filamentous elements of the axoplasm in a coiled, threadlike preparation. The uranyl ions combine probably with the carboxyl groups of the main amino acids of the protein—glutamic and aspartic acids. It is proposed that by coiling/decoiling and folding/unfolding of the unit-filaments, shifts in physicochemical properties of the axoplasm are maintained.

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