, Volume 9, Issue 6, pp 725-732

Neuro-epitheliomuscular cell and neuro-neuronal gap junctions inHydra

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Summary

Gap junctions have been described ultrastructurally between neurons and epitheliomuscular cells and between neurons and their processes in the hypostome peduncle and basal disc ofHydra. All gap junctions examined inHydra exhibit two apposed plasma membranes having a 2–4 nm gap continuous with the extracellular space. The gap junctions are variable in length from 0.1–1.6 μm and appear linear or V-shaped in section. Neuronal gap junctions inHydra occur infrequently as compared to chemical synapses. Electron microscopy of serial sections has demonstrated the presence of adjacent electrical and chemical synapses (neuromuscular junctions) formed by the same neuron. In addition multiple gap junctions were present between two neurons. This is the first ultrastructural demonstration of electrical synapses in the nervous system ofHydra. Such synapses occur in neurons previously characterized as sensory-motor-interneurons on the basis of their chemical synapses; these neurons appear to represent a type of stem cell characterized by having both electrical and chemical synapses.