Distribution and innervation of short, interdigitated muscle fibers in parallel-fibered muscles of the cat hindlimb

J Morphol. 1987 Jan;191(1):1-15. doi: 10.1002/jmor.1051910102.


The cat hindlimb contains several long, biarticular strap muscles composed of parallel muscle fascicles that attach to short tendons. Three of these muscles--sartorius, tenuissimus, and semitendinosus--were studied by dissecting individual gold-stained fibers and determining the surface distribution of acetylcholinesterase-stained end-plate zones. In each muscle, fascicles were composed of muscle fibers that ran only part of the fascicle length and tapered to end as fine strands that interdigitated with other tapering fibers within the muscle mass. Most muscle fibers measured 2-3 cm in length. Fascicles of muscle fibers were crossed by short transverse bands of endplates (1 mm wide by 1-5 mm long) that were spaced at fairly regular intervals from the origin to the insertion of the muscle. The endplate pattern suggested that the fiber fascicles were organized into multiple longitudinal strips. In the sartorius, the temporospatial distribution of electromyographic (EMG) activity evoked by stimulating fine, longitudinal branches of the parent nerve confirmed that each strip was selectively innervated by a small subset of the motor axons. These axons appeared to distribute their endings throughout the entire length of the fascicles, providing for synchronous activation of their in-series fibers.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Cats / anatomy & histology*
  • Electromyography
  • Hindlimb / anatomy & histology*
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Motor Endplate / anatomy & histology
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscles / anatomy & histology*
  • Muscles / innervation
  • Muscles / physiology