The distribution of nerve terminals from a single excitatory motor axon has been followed along a fiber from the proximal accessory flexor muscle of the lobster by thin serial sectioning at periodic intervals. The excitatory motor axon provides small axonal branches (diameter 5–12 μm) of varying lengths that travel along the surface of the muscle fiber. Each of these branches gives rise to discrete synaptic terminals which are not uniformly distributed. Individual terminals vary in length from 10–60 μm and the majority possess neuromuscular synapses. The greatest distance between synapses is slightly over 1 mm which is well within the length constant (2.6 mm) of this muscle fiber. Thus the spatial distribution of synapses is such as to ensure adequate depolarization along the entire length of the muscle fiber.
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I thank Professor H.L. Atwood for criticism of the manuscript and R.G. Chiang, R.A. DeRosa, J.A. King and J. Pearce for technical assistance. This work was supported by grants from the National Research Council and Muscular Dystrophy Association of Canada
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Govind, C.K. Spatial distribution of excitatory innervation on a muscle fiber of the lobster (Homarus americanus). Cell Tissue Res. 199, 171–175 (1979). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00237737
- Neuromuscular synapse
- Multiterminal innervation
- Electron microscopy