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Photoreceptor membrane breakdown in the spider Dinopis: GERL differentiation in the receptors


In the spider Dinopis, retinae of the posterior median eyes synthesise new photoreceptor membrane in bulk at dusk and destroy it at dawn (Blest, 1978). During the dawn period, there is a rapid, anticipatory differentiation of unusual organelles from the rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER) in the intermediate segments of the receptors. This system is classified as GERL. Its products appear to play a role in the autolysis of photoreceptor membrane. Consistent topographical relationship to Golgi bodies has not been determined. Circumscribed regions of RER whorls first reorganise to yield fenestrated profiles; these differentiate further to a number of structures by condensation and loss of ribosomes. Smooth tubular profiles are termed ‘rigid tubules’ to indicate their probable homology with the rigid lamellae of vertebrate secretory cells. More complex smooth multilocular bodies are also produced. Evidence is discussed which implies that both rigid tubules and multilocular bodies give rise to condensing vacuoles. These, in turn, pinch off coated vesicles assembled as ‘Nebenkerne’. Some rigid tubules are transported to the interrhabdomeral cytoplasm of the receptive segments. At late stages of differentiation, rigid tubules, multilocular bodies and ‘Nebenkerne’ give strong, positive responses to zinc iodide-osmium tetroxide (ZIO) treatment; early stages and both cis and trans Golgi components do not. GERL differentiation is independent of immediate illumination of the retina at dawn. It is suggested to mediate the lysis of membrane degradation products by the production of hydrolases.

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Author information

Correspondence to Dr. A. D. Blest.

Additional information

We thank Professor D.T. Anderson F.R.S. for our use of field facilities at the Crommelin Biological Field Station of Sydney University at Warrah, Pearl Beach, N.S.W., and Andrew and Sally Austin and Sally Stowe for help in the field. We are indebted to Rod Whitty and the Electron Microscopy Unit for advice and support throughout these studies

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Blest, A.D., Powell, K. & Kao, L. Photoreceptor membrane breakdown in the spider Dinopis: GERL differentiation in the receptors. Cell Tissue Res. 195, 277–297 (1978).

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Key words

  • Photoreceptor
  • Membrane degradation
  • GERL
  • Tubular profiles
  • Nocturnal spider, Dinopis subrufus L. Koch