Fine structure and histochemistry of the epidermis of the fish Monopterus cuchia


*Dr Mary Whitear, Zoology Department, University College, Gower Street, London.


An attempt is made to correlate fine structure with the histochemical reactions of the epidermis in the synbranchiform fish Monopterus cuchia. Three sources of mucus are identified. Superficial epithelial cells produce weakly acidic glycoprotein which is secreted at the surface as the external mucous layer or cuticle. Numerous large unicellular mucous glands have a secretion which is strongly acidic and sulphated, although the basal and peripheral parts of these cells, which contain most of the rough endoplasmic reticulum, react strongly for neutral glycoprotein; Golgi cisternae appear to be involved in a change of histochemical reaction from neutral to strongly acidic as the secretion is formed. A second, slender, type of mucous gland cell, not previously reported, gives a weaker reaction for sulphated acidic glycoprotein and has cytoplasm with numerous Golgi cisternae and free ribosomes, producing electron–dense secreted drops. Sacciform cells, with a protein–aceous secretion, have a characteristic fine structure with membranous “bubbles” at the surface of the cytoplasm. Ionocytes, sensor) cells and intrusive leucocytes have been identified in the epidermis.