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The Localization Of The Motoneurons Supplying The Hindlimb Muscles Of The Mouse

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The method of retrograde axonal transport of horseradish peroxidase (HRP) has been used to localize the motoneurons that innervate the mouse hindlimb musculature. Motoneurons were labelled following either intramuscular injection of an HRP solution or application of HRP to the cut end of a muscle nerve. When intramuscular injection was used the nerves to adjacent muscles were cut and deflected from the injection site to prevent motoneurons projecting to these muscles being labelled with HRP. For some muscles this procedure was inadequate since the nerves to adjacent muscles were too short to enable adequate deflexion. The motoneurons projecting to these muscles were labelled by the method of cut nerve exposure. The motoneurons that project to a single muscle or a group of muscles were organized as longitudinal columns. The positions of such motonuclei within the lateral motor column were similar in different animals for any given muscle or muscle group. Motoneurons innervating the anterior and medial femoral muscles were located in spinal segments L1 and L2. Motoneurons innervating the remaining hindlimb muscles were found in segments L3-L5. Topographic relationships between muscle motonuclei were in general found to be similar to those described for the cat. The principal differences to be noted between the two species were that the adductors motonucleus did not overlap with the hamstrings motonucleus in the mouse. Also the motonuclei supplying the deep flexors of the crural musculature and intrinsic musculature of the foot were located more ventrally relative to the posterior crural motonucleus in the mouse as compared to the cat. Consideration of muscle homologies between vertebrate classes enabled comparisons of the localization of motonuclei between the mouse and the other species studied. It was found that topographical relations between motonuclei were similar in all the species so far studied. There was no absolute correlation between the rostrocaudal position of a motonucleus and the position in the hindlimb of the muscle that it innervated. In general, motonuclei innervating muscles derived from the dorsal muscle mass were located lateral to motonuclei innervating muscles derived from the ventral muscle mass. Furthermore, within each muscle mass there is a relationship between rostrocaudal position of a motonucleus and the anteroposterior position of the muscle it supplies. Thus there is a relation between position of a motonucleus within the spinal cord and the derivation from the embryonic muscle mass of the muscle that it supplies.