Ultrastructural characteristics of zebrafish spinal motoneurons innervating glycolytic white, and oxidative red and intermediate muscle fibers

Acta Histochem. 1993 Sep;95(1):31-44. doi: 10.1016/S0065-1281(11)80385-5.


Spinal motoneurons in the zebrafish were classified using morphological criteria. Dorsomedial white motoneurons which innervate the fast, glycolytic white muscle fiber compartment were distinguished from ventrolateral red and intermediate motoneurons which innervate the slow, oxidative, red and intermediate muscle fiber compartments. Synapses on cell somata and cell organelles were studied in detail. The motoneurons which innervate white muscle fibers (W motoneurons) are considerably larger than those which innervate red and intermediate muscle fibers (RI motoneurons; W > RI). Significant differences were also found in the size of the nucleus (W > RI) and in the ratio size nucleus/size soma (W < RI); small differences were found regarding endoplasmic reticulum (W > RI) and mitochondria (W < RI). There were no differences in synaptic apposition length or percentage of terminals with flat vesicles. Small differences were discerned with regard to covering percentages (W < RI) and percentage of terminals with round vesicles (W > RI). Terminals with dense cored vesicles appeared on W motoneuron somata only. Within the motoneuron population, there was a positive correlation between the coverage of terminals containing flat vesicles and the perimeter of the cell soma. In RI motoneurons, there was a positive correlation between the perimeter of the cell and the amount of endoplasmic reticulum. A negative correlation was found between the RI cell perimeter and mitochondria, which is in line with a high succinate dehydrogenase activity in small cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleus / ultrastructure
  • Glycolysis / physiology
  • Horseradish Peroxidase
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Motor Neurons / ultrastructure*
  • Muscles / innervation*
  • Muscles / ultrastructure
  • Nerve Endings / ultrastructure
  • Organelles / ultrastructure
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Spinal Cord / ultrastructure*
  • Synapses / ultrastructure
  • Zebrafish / anatomy & histology*


  • Horseradish Peroxidase