The abdominal intersegmental molting muscles of Rhodnius prolixus undergo a repeated differentiation and dedifferentiation correlated with the molting cycle of the insect. In the dedifferentiated phase, the muscle fibers lack myofibrils but contain a few bundles of 50–60Å filaments associated with amorphous dense plaques on the sarcolemma. Differentiation of the muscle fibers begins when a starved Rhodnius nymph takes a blood meal. The first morphological signs of differentiation at ten hours after feeding are a dispersal of ribosomes from the nuclear envelopes and a formation of polysomes in the sarcoplasm. The initial myofilaments appear within 10 to 15 hours after the blood meal and are preferentially deposited in the cortices of the muscle fibers in association with the 50–60Å filament bundles and the dense plaques on the sarcolemma. Striated myofibrils are present after five days of differentiation. Developmental continuity between Z‐band segments and sarcolemmal dense plaques is suggested. The formation of cross‐bridges between thick and thin myofilaments appears to be the primary mechanism of myofibril organization. Disruption of microtubules with colchicine does not significantly alter myofilament deposition and organization during early stages of differentiation. Dyads, consisting of smooth sarcoplasmic reticulum and invaginations of the sarcolemma, are present in the dedifferentiated muscle fiber, and increase in number as differentiation proceeds.
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