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Species differences in the morphology of T-tubule openings in cardiomyocytes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)iii120-iii124
Number of pages5
Issue numberSupp 3
DateAccepted/In press - 4 Oct 2018
DatePublished (current) - 1 Nov 2018


Aims: The ultrastructure of ventricular cardiomyocyte T-tubule connections with the outer cell surface has been reported to be different between mice and rabbits. In mice, T-tubules form convoluted narrow spaces filled with electron-dense matter that impedes diffusion between T-tubular lumen and bulk extracellular space. Here, we explore whether T-tubule mouths are also restricted in rat (another murine model used frequently for cardiac research) and whether pig and human T-tubule mouths are also generally restricted as is the case for mouse.

Methods: We used chemically-fixed tissue and high-pressure frozen cells to compare T-tubule mouth architecture in rats, mice, and rabbits using transmission electron microscopy and 3D electron tomography.

Results: We find that rat T-tubular mouth architecture is more similar to that of rabbits than mice, lacking the marked tortuosity and electron-dense ground substance that obstructs access to deeper portions of the T-tubular system in mice. Pilot observations in larger mammals (pig, human) suggest that mouse may be the least representative animal model of T-tubule connectivity with the outer cell surface in larger mammals.

Conclusion: Rat T-tubular system architecture appears to be more similar in size and topology to other mammals than mice. T-tubular mouth topology may contribute to differences in experimental model behaviour, underscoring the problems of appropriate model selection for research into cell and tissue functions.

    Research areas

  • Transverse tubules, heart, cardiac, ultrastructure, electron tomography

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