Three-dimensional configuration of the mitochondria in cultured heart cells.
The mitochondria of chick heart cells grown in monolayer culture occupy a relatively large percentage (30%) of the cell cytoplasmic volume, as determined by thin section morphometry, and vary in their ultrastructural configuration in response to different functional states of the cell. The present study was undertaken to determine the three-dimensional structure of the mitochondria in cardiac cells, since reconstruction experiments have demonstrated the existence of a mitochondrial network in cardiac and other tissues, e.g. diaphragm, soleus and vastus muscle, kidney and urinary bladder, in vivo. Confluent monolayers of synchronously beating embryonic chick heart cells were fixed, stained with a mitochondria-specific heavy metal complex (Pb-Cu citrate), and processed for either transmission electron microscopy (TEM) or scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and backscatter electron imaging (BSI). Both secondary and backscatter images revealed the presence of many thin, extremely elongate structures which in stereo views appeared as branching, anastomosing networks. TEM demonstrated localization of the electron dense stain to either nuclear or mitochondrial membranes, structures which were easily distinguished with SEM or BSI alone. These morphological results indicate that many mitochondria of the cultured heart muscle cell are interconnected and suggest that this morphological network may represent a parallel functional unit which maintains the energy state of the cell.
LeFurgey, A; Ingram, P; Henry, SC; Murphy, E; Lieberman, M
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