The ultrastructure and innervation of muscles controlling chromatophore expansion in the squid, Loligo vulgaris

Cell Tissue Res. 1995 Dec;282(3):503-12. doi: 10.1007/BF00318882.


Squid chromatophores are organs of colour change, consisting of a pigment sac opened by contraction of 10-24 radial muscle fibres. The ultrastructure and innervation of these muscle fibres were examined by electron microscopy and diagramatic reconstructions made on the basis of serial ultra-thin sections. At the proximal end of the fibre, nearest the pigment sac a cortical myofilament zone surrounds 2 cores containing mitochrondria; further along the fibre these merge to form one central core. The myofilament zone forms a groove containing a nerve bundle consisting of 2 to 4 axons per muscle fibre. The axons are surrounded by glial cell processes, and either originate from a neighbouring fibre, or join the fibre at some point along its length. Axons twist around each other, forming a series of synapses with the muscle fibre. As many as 6-37 synapses exist along the length of each muscle fibre; the mean synapse interval is 9.05 microm, but the largest may be 123 microm. At the distal end of the muscles, the nerve is located towards the middle of the fibre, which it penetrates as the muscle splits up. Electron-lucent vesicles are present in all synaptic regions, but electron-dense vesicles are only found towards the distal end of the fibre. There is thus a possibility that more than one neurotransmitter is present in the nerves innervating chromatophores. Electron-lucent and dense-cored vesicles are not colocalised.

MeSH terms

  • Actin Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure
  • Animals
  • Chromatophores / metabolism*
  • Chromatophores / ultrastructure
  • Decapodiformes
  • Muscles / innervation
  • Muscles / ultrastructure*
  • Nerve Fibers / ultrastructure
  • Neuromuscular Junction / ultrastructure