• electron microscope tomography;
  • caveolae;
  • sarcoplasmic reticulum;
  • smooth muscle;
  • calcium signaling


A spatial relationship between caveolae and sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) in smooth muscle cells (SMC) was previously reported in computer-assisted three-dimensional reconstruction from transmission electron microscope serial sections. The knowledge of the three-dimensional organization of the cortical space of SMC is essential to understand caveolae function at the cellular level. Cellular tomography using transmission electron microscopy tomography (EMT) is the only available technology to reliably chart the inside of a cell and is therefore an essential technology in the study of organellar nanospatial relationships. Using EMT we further demonstrate here that caveolae and peripheral SR in visceral SMC build constantly spatial units, presumably responsible for a vectorial control of free Ca2+ cytoplasmic concentrations in definite nanospaces.