The localization of Ca-accumulating structures in the longitudinal body wall muscle (LBWM) of the opisthobranch mollusc Dolabella auricularia and their role in the contraction-relaxation cycle were studied by fixing the LBWM fibers at rest and during mechanical response to 400 mM K or to 10(-4)--10(-3) M acetylcholine in a 1% OsO4 solution containing 2% K pyroantimonate. In the resting fibers, electron-opaque pyroantimonate precipitate was mostly localized at the peripheral structures, i.e., along the inner surface of the plasma membrane, at the membrane of the surface tubules, and at the sarcoplasmic reticulum. In the fibers fixed during mechanical activity, the precipitate was diffusely distributed in the myoplasm in the form of numerous particles with corresponding decrease in the amount of the precipitate at the peripheral structures. Electron-probe X-ray microanalysis showed the presence of Ca in the precipitate, indicating that the precipitate may serve as a measure of Ca localization. These results are in accord with the view that, in the LBWM, the Ca stored in the peripheral structures is released into the myoplasm to activate the contractile mechanism.

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