Vesicle-mediated delivery of membrane to growth cones during neuritogenesis in embryonic rat primary neuronal cultures

Exp Cell Biol. 1988;56(1-2):67-73. doi: 10.1159/000163464.


Single cell suspensions from 15-day embryonic rat hindbrain plated on collagen formed large clumps by day 1 in culture. Neurite outgrowth was visible within 2 days. By day 14, morphological synapses were observed in nearly all instances of contact of a neurite ending with another cell. At day 3 in culture, the Golgi apparatus consisted of relatively few, broad lamellae. By contrast, at day 7 in culture this organelle consisted of tightly packed lamellar stacks with a considerable increase in vesicles budding from lamellae. Electron-lucent vesicles, ranging in size from 60 to 180 nm, similar to those generated by the Golgi apparatus were noted in neurite shafts and growth cones, with fusion of these vesicles virtually exclusively at the growth cone leading edge. Monensin resulted in the loss of these vesicles in cell somata and neuritic profiles. The electron-dense marker horseradish peroxidase was not incorporated into these vesicles following its addition to the culture medium, indicating that the vesicles were exocytotic. The number of total vesicles increased during the first 7 days of neurite outgrowth with no further increase up to day 14. This increase was due entirely to vesicles not labeled with the impermeable electron-dense stain ruthenium red, indicating that this increase represents actual vesicular elements and not increased surface convolutions. These data suggest that the 60- to 180-nm electron lucent vesicles are derived from the Golgi apparatus and, by fusion with the growth cone plasmalemma, provide new membrane required for neuritic outgrowth and maintenance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Embryo, Mammalian / cytology
  • Golgi Apparatus / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / ultrastructure*
  • Organelles / physiology
  • Organelles / ultrastructure*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains