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Brain Res. 1987 May 26;412(1):96-106.

Organelle dynamics in lobster axons: anterograde, retrograde and stationary mitochondria.


Mitochondria in isolated motor axons from the walking legs of lobster were observed with differential interference contrast optics and video microscopic techniques. Movements of the mitochondria were analyzed in time-lapse videotape records. The mean velocity of transport in the retrograde direction (1.33 +/- 0.64 micron/s) was greater than the mean velocity of transport in the anterograde direction (0.72 +/- 0.26 micron/s). The mean lengths of the mitochondria moving in the retrograde and anterograde directions were only slightly different (6.9 microns and 5.5 microns, respectively). No correlation was found between mitochondrial length and average velocity or reciprocal velocity. The instantaneous velocities of mitochondria were distributed over a range of approximately 3 micron/s; both the anterograde and retrograde distributions contained a small proportion of values whose sign was opposite to the modal value. The variation in instantaneous velocity took place at frequencies close to 0.1 Hz. Some mitochondria displayed longitudinally oriented oscillatory movements of a similar low frequency. While the movement of most mitochondria was parallel to the axis of the axon, transverse deviations and complex circular paths were sometimes observed. Some mitochondria reversed their orientation and continued in the same direction, so that the end which had been the leading end became the trailing end. Many mitochondria immediately beneath the plasma membrane were stationary and adhered strongly to the plasma membrane when the axoplasmic structure was disrupted. In electron micrographs, fine strands connected peripheral mitochondria and the plasma membrane. These strands may anchor the stationary mitochondria to the plasma membrane.

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