(a) The effects of caffeine on the composition and volume of the terminal cisternae (TC) of the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) in frog skeletal muscle were determined with rapid freezing, electron microscopy, and electron probe analysis. (b) Caffeine (5 mM) released approximately 65% of the Ca content of the TC in 1 min and 84% after 3 min. The release of Ca from the TC was associated with a highly significant increase in its Mg content. This increase in Mg was not reduced by valinomycin. There was also a small increase in the K content of the TC at 1 min, although not after 3 min of caffeine contracture. (c) On the basis of the increase in Mg content during caffeine contracture and during tetanus (Somlyo, A. V., H. Gonzalez-Serratos, H. Shuman, G. McClellan, and A. P. Somlyo, 1981, J. Cell Biol., 90:577-594), we suggest that both mechanisms of Ca release are associated with an increase in the Ca and Mg permeability of the SR membranes, the two ions possibly moving through a common channel. (d) There was a significant increase in the P content of the TC during caffeine contracture, while in tetanized muscle (see reference above) there was no increase in the P content of the TC. (e) Mitochondrial Ca content was significantly increased (at 1 and at 3 min) during caffeine contracture. Valinomycin (5 microM) blocked this mitochondrial Ca uptake. (f) The sustained Ca release caused by caffeine in situ contrasts with the transient Ca release observed in studies of fragmented SR preparations, and could be explained by mediation of the caffeine-induced Ca release by a second messenger produced more readily in intact muscle than in isolated SR. (g) The TC were not swollen in rapidly frozen, caffeine-treated muscles, in contrast to the swelling of the TC observed in conventionally fixed, caffeine-treated preparation, the latter finding being in agreement with previous studies. (h) The fractional volume of the TC in rapidly frozen control (resting) frog semitendinosus muscles (approximately 2.1%) was less than the volume (approximately 2.5%) after glutaraldehyde-osmium fixation.

This content is only available as a PDF.