The giant neurone system in ophiuroids
- Cite this article as:
- Stubbs, T.R. & Cobb, J.L.S. Cell Tissue Res. (1981) 220: 373. doi:10.1007/BF00210515
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The radial nerve cords of members of the class Ophiuroidea consist of two parts, the ectoneural and the hyponeural tissues, which are separated by an acellular basal lamina. The hyponeural tissue is composed entirely of motor fibres. The cell bodies of the hyponeural neurones are arranged in ganglia, one to each segment of the arm, and each containing approximately one hundred cell bodies. Synaptic contact between the two tissues occurs across the basal lamina. Ultrastructural evidence shows that the majority of these synapses operate in the ectoneural to hyponeural direction. Three pairs of nerve bundles, each containing approximately thirty five large motor fibres arise from each ganglion and innervate the intervertebral muscles. The large motor fibres divide into a number of pre-terminal axons in the region in which the motor fibre enters the muscle block. The terminal axons run at right-angles across the muscle fibres and neuromuscular junctions are found at the points of contact between the two; each terminal axon makes contact with a large number of muscle fibres. The hyponeural axons also pass through the juxtaligamental tissue before they reach the muscle blocks and there is some evidence of synaptic contact with the juxtaligamental cells. The juxtaligamental tissue is thought to be associated with changes in the structural properties of the collagenous ligaments of the arm during arm autotomy (Wilkie 1979). Degeneration studies confirmed the layout of the hyponeural motor axons.