Beyond the initial axon segment of the spinal motor axon: fasciculated microtubules and polyribosomal clusters


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Abstract

Dense undercoating, microtubular fascicles and scattered polyribosomal clusters have until now been considered to be the three structural features of the initial segment, and were thought not to extend beyond the initial segment into the myelinated parts of the axon. The aim of the present study was to make clear whether there is a sudden change in morphology between the unmyelinated and myelinated part. We followed spinal motor axons from the initial segment to the first internode by conventional electron microscopy and serial sectioning, and found that the microtubular fascicles and polyribosomal clusters do exist in the internodal axoplasm. The fasciculated microtubules were observed mainly in the first paranode. The polyribosomal clusters were found along the course of the first internode at a random distance, however, they occurred mainly in the proximal part of the first internode. The proportion of sections in which ribosomes were found, i.e. the incidence of ribosomes, in the first 30-μm-long portion was 71 ± 24% (mean ± SD, n = 4), and significantly different from that in the second 30-μm-long portion (3.2 ± 1.3%) (mean ± SD, n = 4) (P < 0.005). The more distal part of the first internode was not investigated.

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