Single Cell Layered Heart: Electromechanical Properties of the Heart of Boltenia ovifera

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Science  22 Nov 1974:
Vol. 186, Issue 4165, pp. 750-752
DOI: 10.1126/science.186.4165.750


The heart of Boltenia ovifera (the sea potato) is a tubular structure formed by a single layer of myocardial cells. Electron microscopic studies show that each cell contains a single myofibril located adjacent to the luminal surface of the cell. Electrical and mechanical measurement of a cannulated perfused heart demonstrate that only the luminal membrane is excitabble and elicits contraction on depolarization. Calcium and magnesium exert antagonistic effects on tension, and potassium depolarizes the myocardium and produces contractures when the luminal membrane is exposed to various concentrations of these ions. The extraluminl membrane does not respond electrically or mechanically to calcium magnesium or potassium, and its potential seems to be effectively "clamped" by the luminal membrane. Functionaly, therefore, this heart consists of a single active membrane with the adjacent contractile apparatus.