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J Neurobiol. 2000 Jan;42(1):148-59.

Neuromuscular plasticity in the locust after permanent removal of an excitatory motoneuron of the extensor tibiae muscle.

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Fachbereich Biologie, Universität Kaiserslautern, D 67653 Kaiserslautern, Germany.


The capacity of the larval insect nervous system to compensate for the permanent loss of one of the two excitatory motoneurons innervating a leg muscle was investigated in the locust (Locusta migratoria). In the fourth instar, the fast extensor tibiae (FETi) motoneuron in the mesothoracic ganglion was permanently removed by photoinactivation with a helium-cadmium laser. Subsequently, the animals were allowed to develop into adulthood. When experimental animals were tested as adults after final ecdysis, fast-contracting fibers in the most proximal region of the corresponding extensor muscle, which are normally predominantly innervated by FETi only, uniformly responded to activity of the slow extensor tibiae (SETi) neuron. In adult operated animals, single pulses to SETi elicited large junctional responses in the fibers which resulted in twitch contractions of these fibers similar to the responses to FETi activity in control animals. The total number of muscle fibers, their properties as histochemically determined contractional types (fast and slow), and their distribution were not affected by photoinactivation of FETi. Possible mechanisms enabling the larval neuromuscular system to compensate for the loss of FETi through functionally similar innervation by a different motoneuron, i.e. SETi, are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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