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Precision Of Reinnervation Of Original Postsynaptic Sites In Frog Muscle After A Nerve Crush

M. S. Letinsky, K. Fischbeck, U. J. McMahan
Published 1976 · Biology, Medicine

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SummaryRegenerating neuromuscular junctions in the cutaneous pectoris muscle of the frog were examined by light and electron microscopy up to three months after crushing the motor nerve. The aim was to determine the precision of reinnervation of the original synaptic sites. More than 95% of the original postsynaptic membrane is recovered by nerve terminals and little, if any, synaptic contact is made on other portions of the muscle fibre surface. Even after prolonged denervation when the Schwann cells have retracted from 70–80% of the postsynaptic membrane, regenerating terminals return to and cover a large fraction of it. Although synapses are confined to the original synaptic sites, the pattern of innervation of muscle fibres is altered in several ways: (a) regenerating axon terminals can fail to branch leaving small stretches of postsynaptic membrane uncovered; (b) two terminal branches can lie side by side over a stretch of postsynaptic membrane normally occupied by one terminal; and (c) after growing along a stretch of postsynaptic membrane on one muscle fibre, terminals can leave it to end either in extracellular space or on the postsynaptic membrane of another fibre. Altogether the results demonstrate a strong and specific affinity between the original synaptic sites and regenerating nerve terminals.
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