Morphology of afferent synapses in the Mauthner cell of larval Xenopus laevis

J Comp Neurol. 1989 Jun 8;284(2):205-14. doi: 10.1002/cne.902840205.


The fine structure of the afferent synapses on the Mauthner cell of larval Xenopus laevis has been studied as a first step toward comparing the fine structure of the afferent synaptic apparatus before and after metamorphosis. There are various types of afferent endings on this cell, some of which are confined to specific cellular regions, while others are distributed over most of the large surface of the neuron. Four different main types of endings have been observed: club endings, round-vesicle end bulbs, flattened-vesicle end bulbs and spiral fibers endings. While the myelinated club endings and the spiral fibers endings are located at the distal end of the lateral dendrite and in the axon cap, respectively, the end bulbs are widely distributed over the whole cell. A further type of ending has been observed, although rarely, on the Mauthner cell soma and dendrites: end bulbs characterized by an unusually dense presynaptic substance. Results obtained in the present research suggest that, as in fish, different endings on the anuran Mauthner neuron correspond to different synaptic inputs. The possible origin of some of these inputs is discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Larva
  • Medulla Oblongata / growth & development
  • Medulla Oblongata / ultrastructure*
  • Metamorphosis, Biological
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Neurons, Afferent / ultrastructure*
  • Synapses / ultrastructure*
  • Xenopus laevis / anatomy & histology*
  • Xenopus laevis / growth & development