Mitochondria and Other Cytoplasmic Inclusions

By The Company Of Biologists | Go to book overview

ELECTRON MICROSCOPY OF MITOCHONDRIA AND THE GOLGI COMPLEX

By ALBERT J. DALTON AND MARIE D. FELIX

National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare


INTRODUCTION

Before accepting as valid any description of the fine structure of cell components as revealed by the electron microscope, it should be determined whether or not certain basic prerequisites have been satisfied. The first of these is certainty of identification. The second is assurance of the reality of the component. The third is agreement as to the degree of modification of fine structure introduced during the preparation and examination of specimens. The first two of these prerequisites are relatively easily satisfied for mitochondria and even for the Golgi complex, but the third is more difficult since it can only be approached indirectly. In the course of this presentation an attempt will be made to demonstrate how well these requirements are being fulfilled by present-day techniques. Following this the fine structure of mitochondria and the Golgi complex of a variety of cell types will be described. The possible relationships between structure and function in these organelles will also be considered.

There is no longer any real problem in regard to either the identification or the question of the reality of mitochondria. The same structures, identifiable in living cells and stainable with Janus green B, are readily identified by their size, number and distribution on examination of thin sections of cells with the electron microscope. The real difficulty arises in interpreting the fine structure of mitochondria. It arises because this fine structure only becomes evident by the use of resolving powers well beyond the capabilities of visual light or even ultra-violet optics. Of some concern also is the fact that we are at the present time dependent primarily on osmic acid ( Palade, 1953), or on fixatives containing osmic acid ( Dalton, 1955) for obtaining preparations of sufficient contrast to allow resolution of the finer detail of the majority of cell components.

The presence of a double limiting membrane and the presence of double internal membranes ( Palade, 1953; Sjöstrand, 1953; Rhodin, 1954) may be accepted as real and not artifacts of fixation essentially on the basis that since larger structures visible with the light microscope show no evidence of change during fixation, these smaller structures likewise may be assumed

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