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J Comp Neurol. 1997 Dec 22;389(3):419-43.

A regional ultrastructural analysis of the cellular and synaptic architecture in the chinchilla cristae ampullares.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Illinois, Chicago 60612, USA.
U Chicago, IL


The chinchilla crista ampullaris was studied in 10 samples, each containing 32 consecutive ultrathin sections of the entire neuroepithelium. Dissector methods were used to estimate the incidence of various synaptic features, and results were confirmed in completely reconstructed hair cells. There are large regional variations in cellular and synaptic architecture. Type I and type II hair cells are shorter, broader, and less densely packed in the central zone than in the intermediate and peripheral zones. Complex calyx endings are most common centrally. On average, there are 15-20 ribbon synapses and 25-30 calyceal invaginations in each type I hair cell. Synapses and invaginations are most numerous centrally. Central type II hair cells receive considerably fewer afferent boutons than do peripheral type II hair cells, but have similar numbers of ribbon synapses. The numbers are similar because central type II hair cells make more synapses with the outer faces of calyx endings and with individual afferent boutons. Most afferent boutons get one ribbon synapse. Boutons without ribbon synapses were only found peripherally, and boutons getting multiple synapses were most frequent centrally. Throughout the neuroepithelium, there is an average of three to four efferent boutons on each type II hair cell and calyx ending. Reciprocal synapses are rare. Most synaptic ribbons in type I hair cells are spherules; those in type II hair cells can be spherical or elongated and are particularly heterogeneous centrally. Consistent with the proposal that the crista is concentrically organized, the intermediate and peripheral zones are each similar in their cellular and synaptic architecture near the base and near the planum. An especially differentiated subzone may exist in the middle of the central zone.

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