A study has been made of the cells of the left colleterial gland of the cockroach, Periplaneta americana (L.), using the electron microscope, and the results compared with previous histological and histochemical studies.
The colleterial gland consists of an arborescent bunch of long tubules composed mainly of the cells which secrete the structural protein of the egg case ("type 4 cells"). Other types of cells: chitinogenic cells and "type 2 and 3 cells" each with a different cytology are described.
The type 4 cells, which form the structural protein, reveal a cytological pattern very similar to that described for mammalian cells in a state of active protein synthesis. There is an elaborate development of particle-studded membranes in the cytoplasm. Smaller, rounded agranular vesicles also occur.
The free secretory surface of the secreting cells forms the "end-apparatus" of the light microscopists. The invaginated surface is cast into numerous long narrow processes usually radially arranged and directed into a funnel-like formation derived from the thin intima lining the lumen of the gland (Text-fig. 2). The secretion in the form of small balls may be seen in the cavity of the end-apparatus and sometimes in the narrow processes.
The small chitinogenic cells, lying between the protein-forming cells and the thin intima which they secrete, have a different cytology perhaps related to the fact that they form a polysaccharide rather than a protein. There is a very poor development of the particle-studded membranes of the type found in protein-forming cells.
The type 2 cells, supposed to form an oxidase, have an end-apparatus that is similar to, but more complex than, those of the type 4 cells and their cytoplasm is almost completely filled with mitochondria. There is some evidence that mitochondria play a part in forming the oxidase and pass into the tubules of the end-apparatus.
Type 3 cells resemble both types 2 and 4 and are probably a transient intermediate form.