In vitro analysis of specificity during nerve-muscle synaptogenesis.

D. H. Sanes, M. M. Poo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The early phase of synapse formation was studied in cultures of Xenopus laevis spinal neurons and myotomal muscle cells. Two early events are described: the pulsatile secretion of acetylcholine from the nerve terminal in response to myocytic or neuronal contacts, and the development of nerve-myocyte adhesion during the first few minutes of contact. The specificity in these early events in synaptogenesis was assessed with respect to the positional and clonal relationships of the neurons and myocytes. Axial position and lineage were determined by injecting embryos with a fluorescent dye, such that dissociated cells could subsequently be identified in culture. We examined the efficacy of spontaneous synaptic currents, and the relative preponderance of growth cone-myocyte associations, for neurite-myocyte pairs of the same or dissimilar origin. Neither of these two assays revealed a dependence on the axial position or the lineage of the cells. Although these studies indicate that early nerve-muscle interactions show little positional or clonal selectivity, myocytes clearly influence the onset of synaptic function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)116-130
Number of pages15
JournalCiba Foundation symposium
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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