Excitatory synapses of blue crab gastric mill muscles

Cell Tissue Res. 1977 Feb 9;177(2):145-58. doi: 10.1007/BF00221078.


Physiological and ultrastructural studies were made of neuromuscular synapses in stomach muscles, especially two gastric mill muscles of the blue crab innervated by neurons of the stomatogastric ganglion. These muscles depolarized and contracted with application of glutamate, but not acetylcholine, whereas the dorsal dilator muscles of the pyloric region depolarized and contracted in acetylcholine, but not in glutamate. Large excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSP's) of 5-20 mV were recorded in the gastric mill muscles. At low frequencies of activation, individual synapses released on average about 2 quanta of transmitter for each nerve impulse. Facilitation of EPSP's after a single nerve impulse could be detected for at least 10 s. Synapses were found on enlarged terminals of the motor axon; their contact areas ranged from 0.2 mum2 up to 3mum2. Both electron-lucent, round synaptic vesicles and dense-cored vesicles occurred near these synapses. A possible correlation between contact area of a synapse and output of transmitter, is discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / pharmacology
  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Brachyura / ultrastructure*
  • Glutamates / pharmacology
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Muscle Contraction / drug effects
  • Neuromuscular Junction / physiology
  • Neuromuscular Junction / ultrastructure*
  • Synaptic Vesicles / ultrastructure


  • Glutamates
  • Acetylcholine