Growth cone morphology and trajectory in the lumbosacral region of the chick embryo

K. W. Tosney, L. T. Landmesser

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269 Scopus citations


We quantitatively analyzed several features of orthogradely labeled peripheral growth cones in the lumbosacral region of the chick embryo. We compared motoneuron growth cones in regions where they appear to express specific directional preferences (the plexus region and regions where muscle nerves diverge from main nerve trunks), which we operationally defined as 'decision regions', to motoneuron growth cones in other pathway regions (the spinal nerve, nerve trunk, and muscle nerve pathways) which we termed, for contrast, 'non-decision regions'. We found that motoneuron growth cones are larger, more lamellepodial, and have more complex trajectories in decision regions. Sensory growth cone populations, which are thought to be dependent upon motoneurons for outgrowth (Landmesser, L., and M. Honig (1982) Soc. Neurosci. Abstr. 8: 929), do not enlarge or become more lamellepodial in motoneuron decision regions, suggesting that this local environment does not affect all species of growth cones equally and that the alterations in motoneuron growth cones in these regions may be relevant to their specific guidance. In addition, the resemblance between the sensory population and other closely fasciculating growth cones lead to the suggestion that sensory neurons utilize motoneuron neurites as a substratum. We suggest that the convoluted trajectories, enlarged size, and more lamellepodial morphology of motoneuron growth cones in decision regions is either related directly to the presence of specific cues that guide motoneurons or to some aspect of this environment that allows them to respond to specific cues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2345-2358
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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