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Membrane specializations in the peripheral retina of the housefly Musca domestica L.


Membrane specializations of the peripheral retina of the housefly (Musca domestica) are revealed in thin sections and freeze fracture/etch replicas. Septate junctions are abundant in corner areas of the pseudocone enclosure bonding: between homologous corneal pigment cells (CPC); between homologous large pigment cells (LPC); between CPC-LPC; between Semper cells (SC); between SC-CPC. Spot desmosomes are present between Semper cells. It is likely that septate junctions function as strengthening adhesions in this area. A new membrane specialization similar to a continuous junction was observed between retinular cells of the same or adjacent ommatidium. This junction has indistinct septa in the 115Å intermembrane cleft and is intermittent in character. When this junction is absent, the apposed cells gape apart. In freeze fracture studies, this junction is characterized by bridges composed of fused membrane particles and randomly arranged particles on the P face, and non-corresponding grooves on the E face. The ridges are elongate and roughly parallel and sometimes they form enclosures. Mitochondria line up along these junctions, often within 90Å of the unit membrane. This membrane specialization has characteristics of tight and continuous junctions. In line with previous findings, we suggest that this junction assists in retinular cell orientation, possibly in enforcing the ommatidial twist and in maintaining localized ionic concentration gradients between retinular cells.

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Author information

Correspondence to Dr. Stanley D. Carlson.

Additional information

We gratefully acknowledge support from the N.I.H., National Eye Institute, EYO-1686 and from the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Hatch Project 2100. Dr. Tom Reese and Dr. John Heuser assisted one of us (RLSM) in freeze etch technique at the Neurobiology Training Course, Marine Biology Laboratory, Woods Hole, Mass. Support for RLSM at MBL came from a Grass Foundation Fellowship. This work was also supported in part by Grant RR 00167 from the N.I.H. to the Wisconsin Primate Center. We heartily thank Dr. Philippa Claude, Primate Center, UW, Madison, for training in the freeze-fracture technique and for critically reading this manuscript. Dr. Robert Goy, Director of the Primate Center, is acknowledged for his kind permission to use the Center's freeze etch apparatus. Professor Hans Ris, Department of Zoology gave permission for use of the high voltage electron microscope. Mr. Martin B. Garment provided able darkroom assistance.

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Chi, C., Carlson, S.D. & Marie, R.L. Membrane specializations in the peripheral retina of the housefly Musca domestica L.. Cell Tissue Res. 198, 501–520 (1979).

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Key words

  • Peripheral retina
  • Transmission electron microscopy
  • House fly
  • Membrane specializations and pigment cells
  • Photoreceptor cells