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Defining classes of spinal interneuron and their axonal projections in hatchling Xenopus laevis tadpoles.

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Wenchang Li, R Perrins, SR Soffe, M Yoshida, A Walford, A Roberts

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Neurobiotin was injected into individual spinal interneurons in the Xenopus tadpole to discern their anatomical features and complete axonal projection patterns. Four classes of interneuron are described, with names defining their primary axon projection: Dorsolateral ascending and commissural interneurons are predominantly multipolar cells with somata and dendrites exclusively in the dorsal half of the spinal cord. Ascending interneurons have unipolar somata located in the dorsal half, but their main dendrites are located in the ventral half of the spinal cord. Descending interneurons show bigger variance in their anatomy, but the majority are unipolar, and they all have a descending primary axon. Dorsolateral commissural interneurons are clearly defined using established criteria, but the others are not, so cluster analysis was used. Clear discriminations can be made, and criteria are established to characterize the three classes of interneuron with ipsilateral axonal projections. With identifying criteria established, the distribution and axonal projection patterns of the four classes of interneuron are described. By using data from gamma -aminobutyric acid immunocytochemistry, the distribution of the population of ascending interneurons is defined. Together with the results from the axonal projection data, this allows the ascending interneuron axon distribution along the spinal cord to be estimated. By making simple assumptions and using existing information about the soma distributions of the other interneurons, estimates of their axon distributions are made. The possible functional roles of the four interneuron classes are discussed. (C) 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-265
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2001

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