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J Neurocytol. 1980 Jun;9(3):405-24.

Synaptogenesis in the vestibular sensory epithelium of the chick embryo.


The formation of synapses between sensory cells and the terminals of afferent axons has been examined in the embryonic chick labyrinth. Neurites initially cross the otocyst basal lamina and ramify among the undifferentiated epithelial cells by stage 25 Hamburger and Hamilton. At the same time granular vesicles, with diameters averaging 130nm, appear in the basal cytoplasm of a few of the epithelial cells. These vesicles often exist in groups at sites contact with; neurites. By stages 27-28, non membrane-bound densities are frequently found in association with groups of granular vesicles at the plasma membrane. Smaller, clear synaptic vesicles are also a prominent component of these arrangements in presumptive hair cells. Presynaptic ribbons opposite postsynaptic densites are identifiable at about stage 28, and their number increases during subsequent embryonic stages. Specialized appositions, including adherent, postsynaptic and possibly gap junctional contacts, join epithelial cells and nerve terminals throughout this period. The distribution of these junctions is variable, and is not necessarily correlated with the sites of formation of presynaptic ribbons. By stage 32, well-developed chemical synapses consisting of presynaptic ribbons witah vesicle halos and postsynaptic densities are common features of hair cell-afferent nerve terminal contact regions. In addition, possible sites of gap junctional contact between adjacent intra-epithelial nerve endings found at stage 32 presage those found in the cristae and maculae of pre-hatch (stage 45) embryos and adults.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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