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Visually guided injection of identified reticulospinal neurons in zebrafish: a survey of spinal arborization patterns.

The Journal of Comparative Neurology

growth & development, embryology, anatomy & histology, Zebrafish, cytology, chemistry, Spinal Nerves, Pyramidal Tracts, Neurons, Larva, Immunohistochemistry, analysis, Fluorescent Dyes, enzymology, Brain Stem, physiology, Axonal Transport, Animals

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      We report here the pattern of axonal branching for 11 descending cell types in the larval brainstem; eight of these cell types are individually identified neurons. Large numbers of brainstem neurons were retrogradely labeled in living larvae by injecting Texas-red dextran into caudal spinal cord. Subsequently, in each larva a single identified cell was injected in vivo with Alexa 488 dextran, using fluorescence microscopy to guide the injection pipette to the targeted cell. The filling of cells via pressure pulses revealed distinct and often extensive spinal axon collaterals for the different cell types. Previous fills of the Mauthner cell had revealed short, knob-like collaterals. In contrast, the two segmental homologs of the Mauthner cell, cells MiD2cm and MiD3cm, showed axon collaterals with extensive arbors recurring at regular intervals along nearly the full extent of spinal cord. Furthermore, the collaterals of MiD2cm crossed the midline at frequent intervals, yielding bilateral arbors that ran in the rostral-caudal direction. Other medullary reticulospinal cells, as well as cells of the nucleus of the medial longitudinal fasciculus (nMLF), also exhibited extensive spinal collaterals, although the patterns differed for each cell type. For example, nMLF cells had extensive collaterals in caudal medulla and far-rostral spinal cord, but these collaterals became sparse more caudally. Two cell types (CaD and RoL1) showed arbors projecting ventrally from a dorsally situated stem axon. Additional cell-specific features that seemed likely to be of physiological significance were observed. The rostral-caudal distribution of axon collaterals was of particular interest because of its implications for the descending control of the larva's locomotive repertoire. Because the same individual cell types can be identified from fish to fish, these anatomical observations can be directly linked to data obtained in other kinds of experiments. For example, 9 of the 11 cell types examined here have been shown to be active during escape behaviors. Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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