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The paracrystalline structure of an insect rhabdomere (Calliphora erythrocephala)

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By use of a modified fixation technique, the receptor cells of the compound eye of the blowfly Calliphora erythrocephala were found to contain a regular, paracrystalline array of alternating rows of hexagonally shaped microvilli. The receptor cells R1 to R6 have a cell-specific number of microvilli per row in a cross section. Every microvillus has a filament cluster connecting the axial skeleton with the microvillar membrane. This cluster is preferentially right-left oriented relative to the longitudinal axis of the microvillar array. Three adjacent microvilli are interconnected by an electron-dense substance. A mirroring technique indicated that this intermicrovillar structure consists of three subunits, although these subunits could not be conclusively demonstrated by classical densitometry or image subtraction techniques. The electron-dense substance can be seen in all cross sections of the proximal and distal parts of the microvilli. They are cylindrical structures separating the microvilli along their entire length. It is suggested that these cylindrical aggregates contain an enzymatic complex separating the rhodopsin-containing microvillar membrane into six compartments.

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Correspondence to Kurt Hamdorf.

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el-Gammal, S., Hamdorf, K. & Henning, U. The paracrystalline structure of an insect rhabdomere (Calliphora erythrocephala). Cell Tissue Res. 248, 511–518 (1987). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00216477

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Key words

  • Compound eye
  • Microvillar structure
  • Axial skeleton
  • Photoreceptor cells
  • Blowfly, Calliphora erythrocephala