Distinct ultrastructural differences exist at the neuromuscular junctions of red, white, and intermediate fibers of a mammalian twitch skeletal muscle (albino rat diaphragm). The primary criteria for recognizing the three fiber types are differences in fiber diameter, mitochondrial content, and width of the Z line. In the red fiber the neuromuscular relationship presents the least sarcoplasmic and axoplasmic surface at each contact. Points of contact are relatively discrete and separate, and axonal terminals are small and elliptical. The junctional folds are relatively shallow, sparse, and irregular in arrangement. Axoplasmic vesicles are moderate in number, and sarcoplasmic vesicles are sparse. In the white fiber long, flat axonal terminals present considerable axoplasmic surface. Vast sarcoplasmic surface area is created by long, branching, closely spaced junctional folds that may merge with folds at adjacent contacts to occupy a more continuous and widespread area. Axoplasmic and sarcoplasmic vesicles are numerous. Both axoplasmic and sarcoplasmic mitochondria of the white fiber usually contain intramitochondrial granules. The intermediate fiber has large axonal terminals that are associated with the most widely spaced and deepest junctional folds. In all three fiber types, the junctional sarcoplasm is rich in free ribosomes, cisternae of granular endoplasmic reticulum, and randomly distributed microtubules.
THE ULTRASTRUCTURE OF THE NEUROMUSCULAR JUNCTIONS OF MAMMALIAN RED, WHITE, AND INTERMEDIATE SKELETAL MUSCLE FIBERS
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Helen A. Padykula, Geraldine F. Gauthier; THE ULTRASTRUCTURE OF THE NEUROMUSCULAR JUNCTIONS OF MAMMALIAN RED, WHITE, AND INTERMEDIATE SKELETAL MUSCLE FIBERS . J Cell Biol 1 July 1970; 46 (1): 27–41. doi: https://doi.org/10.1083/jcb.46.1.27
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