The carpopodite flexor of the walking legs of the crab Portunus depurator contains fibres belonging to 3 groups. These are characterized by differences in the cross-striation spacing. Fibres having sarcomeres of approximately 4, 5 and 7 µm are here called short, medium and long sarcomere types, respectively.
Within individual fibres belonging to any of the groups the length of the A band is not constant. Up to 25 % length differences have been measured in A bands belonging even to the same fibril.
The bridge-free regions of the thick filaments are not always in the centre, so that the filaments are often asymmetric. Analogally, the L line, resulting from the alignment of the bridge-free regions of the thick filaments, may be asymmetrically placed in the Z band. The length of the bridge-free region in crab thick filaments is 60 nm, while the corresponding region in vertebrate thick filaments is 120 nm. This is discussed in terms of a possible model of the filament.
The length of the thin filaments is proportional to that of the thick filaments in the corresponding portion of the sarcomere. When two A bands of different length occur in adjacent positions along the fibril, the Z line is not a centre of symmetry.
The ratio of thin to thick filament number is variable in individual fibrils. In general, the ratio is higher in the medium sarcomere type fibres than in the short sarcomere type.
Stretched and shorter portions of single fibres of the medium type have been examined and the A-band length populations compared. From such a study it can be deduced that passive length changes occur in crab fibres by sliding of thin and thick filaments.
- Received June 27, 1969.
- Copyright © 1970 The Company of Biologists Ltd.