The plasma membrane of leading pacemaker cells in the rabbit sinus node. A qualitative and quantitative ultrastructural analysis.
We studied the fine structure of the plasma membrane of electrophysiologically identified leading pacemaker cells from the rabbit sinus node, using both ultrathin sections of fixed tissue and replicas of freeze-cleaved material. We found that differences exist between sinus node and working myocardial membranes, but these are only quantitative. The caveolae or sarcolemmal invaginations are present in very large numbers; they increase the surface area of the plasma membrane by about 100%. The small macular nexuses that are present represent 0.2% of the membrane surface area. Nexuses are therefore about 10 times less numerous in leading sinus node cells than in working myocardium cells. A single equivalent electrical representation of the sinus node shows, nevertheless, that an appreciable electrical coupling may be expected.
- Copyright © 1979 by American Heart Association