The fine structure of smooth muscle cells of the embryo chicken gizzard cultured in monolayer was studied by phase-contrast optics and electron microscopy. The smooth muscle cells were irregular in shape, but tended to be elongate. The nucleus usually contained prominent nucleoli and was large in relation to the cell body. When fixed with glutaraldehyde, three different types of filaments were noted in the cytoplasm: thick (150–250 A in diameter) and thin (30–80 A in diameter) myofilaments, many of which were arranged in small bundles throughout the cytoplasm and which were usually associated with dark bodies; and filaments with a diameter of 80–110 A which were randomly orientated and are not regarded as myofilaments. Some of the aggregated ribosomes were helically arranged. Mitochondria, Golgi apparatus, and dilated rough endoplasmic reticulum were prominent. In contrast to in vivo muscle cells, micropinocytotic vesicles along the cell membrane were rare and dense areas were usually confined to cell membrane infoldings. These cells are compared to in vivo embryonic smooth muscle and adult muscle after treatment with estrogen. Monolayers of cultured smooth muscle will be of particular value in relating ultrastructural features to functional observations on the same cells.

This content is only available as a PDF.