Development and axonal outgrowth of identified motoneurons in the zebrafish

P. Z. Myers, J. S. Eisen, M. Westerfield

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The authors have observed the development of live, fluorescently labeled motoneurons in the spinal cord of embryonic and larval zebrafish. There are 2 classes of motoneurons: primary and secondary. On each side of each spinal segment there are 3 individually identifiable primary motoneurons, named CaP, MiP, and RoP. The motoneurons of the embryo and larva are similar in morphology and projection pattern to those of the adult. During initial development, axons of primary motoneurons make cellspecific, divergent pathway choices and grow without error to targets appropriate for their adult functions. The authors observed no period of cell death, and except for one consistently observed case, there was no remodeling of peripheral arbors. They have observed a consistent temporal sequence of axonal outgrowth within each spinal segment. The CaP motor axon is the first to leave the spinal cord, followed by the axons of the other primary motoneurons. The Mauthner growth cone enters the spinal cord after all the primary motoneurons of the trunk spinal cord have begun axonal outgrowth. Secondary motor growth cones appear only after the Mauthner growth cone has passed by. Their results suggest that this stereotyped temporal sequence of axonal outgrowth may play a role in defining the contacts between the Mauthner axon and the motoneurons; the behavior of growth cones in the periphery suggests that interactions with the environment, not timing, may determine pathfinding and peripheral connectivity of the motoneurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2278-2289
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1986
Externally publishedYes


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