The anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry of the dorsal membrane muscle (DMA) and the superficial extensor muscle accessory head (SEAcc) in the abdomen of the crayfish, Procambarus clarkii and lobster, Homarus americanus, are reported. These muscles have not been previously characterized physiologically or biochemically. The anatomy was originally described by Pilgrim and Wiersma (1963. J Morph 113:453-587). The arrangement of these muscles varies depending on the abdominal segment. The function of the dorsal membrane muscle is to retract the thin articulating membrane joining the cuticular segments so that the dorsal membrane does not evert during extension of the abdomen. Consequently, the articular membrane does not protrude, and thus potential damage to the membrane is minimized. Examination of nerve terminal morphology revealed strings of varicosities, usually only associated with tonic terminals. The electrophysiological data indicate that there are at least four tonic excitatory and one inhibitory motor neuron innervating these muscles. Facilitation indices and fatigue-resistance indicate physiologically the tonic nature of innervation. Anti-GABA antibodies demonstrate the anatomical presence of an inhibitor motor neuron. The SDS electrophoretic analysis of myofibrillar proteins and Western blots of key protein isoforms for these muscles in crayfish and lobsters also indicate that the DMA and SEAcc muscles are tonic phenotype. J. Exp. Zool. 287:353-377, 2000.
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