Architecture of apical dendrites in the murine neocortex: dual apical dendritic systems

Neuroscience. 1986 Apr;17(4):975-89. doi: 10.1016/0306-4522(86)90074-6.


A monoclonal antibody (5F9) against microtubule-associated protein 2 is a selective and sensitive marker for neocortical dendrites in the mouse. The marker stains all dendrites. It affords a particularly comprehensive picture of the patterns of arrangements of apical dendrites which are most intensely stained with this antibody. Dual systems of apical dendrites arise from the polymorphic neurons of layer VI, on the one hand, and the pyramidal neurons of layers II-V, on the other. Terminal arborization of the former is concentrated principally at the interface of layers V and IV, while that of the latter is in the molecular layer. Apical dendrites of both systems are grouped into fascicles. In supragranular layers and in upper layer VI-lower layer V, where apical dendrites are most abundant, the fascicles coalesce into septa. These generate a honeycomb-like pattern, subdividing these cortical levels into columnar spaces of approximately 20-40 micron diameter. At the level of layer IV, where the number of apical dendrites is greatly reduced, the fascicles are isolated bundles. These bundles have the form of circular, elliptical or rectangular columns in the primary somatosensory, temporal and frontal regions, respectively. Those in the barrel field are preferentially concentrated in the sides of barrels and the interbarrel septa. The configurations of the dendritic fascicles, particularly the midcortical bundles, may conform to the spatial configuration of investing axons of interneurons.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Cerebral Cortex / analysis
  • Cerebral Cortex / ultrastructure*
  • Dendrites / analysis
  • Dendrites / classification
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / analysis
  • Neurons / analysis
  • Neurons / ultrastructure*
  • Pyramidal Tracts / analysis
  • Pyramidal Tracts / ultrastructure


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins