An unusual cell surface modification: a double plasma membrane

N J Lane, J B Harrison
1979 Journal of Cell Science  
The occurrence of an unusual double plasma membrane structure is reported; it has been studied in conventional thin sections, after lanthanum-impregnation and with freeze-fracturing. This modification of the plasmalemma is found where the luminal cell membrane (I membrane) of gut microvilli in the haematophagous insect, Rhodnius prolixus, is surrounded by a second, outer membrane (O membrane), the 2 separated from one another by a highly regular I-O space of about 10 nm. Lanthanum impregnation
more » ... eveals the presence of columns inclined at an angle, within this I-O space; as in the continuous junctions which link the lateral borders of these cells, these columns may maintain the very precise I-O distance. From the outer microvillar membranes radiate short spoke-like fibrils or sheets which encounter another more extensive system of myelin-like sheets. Freeze-fracturing reveals that the spoke-like sheets and the other ones which lie like a tube, around and parallel to the microvilli, contain linear ridges composed of particles, lying at random within layers of the myelin-like material which also extends into the lumen of the gut. The microvillar membanes, both O and I, fracture into faces containing rows of either PF particles or EF pits arranged as spiral ridges or grooves around the sides and across the tip of each microbillus. These could be the insertion sites of one or both of the I-O columns and spoke-like sheets while the sheets could represent a variant of peritrophic membrane. The double membrane may be a cellular device to increase the strength of the microvillar layer in these blood-sucking animals, since the cell layer must withstand great pressure owing to a sudden massive extension of the gut during a blood meal.
pmid:528589 fatcat:xb4m4ufzq5gqjocgzhqqwhzqwq