Competition vs Intrinsic Withdrawal in the development of the NMJ

Adrianna Teriakidis, Richard Ribchester

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


At birth many muscle fibres are innervated by more than one motor neuron. During development all but one of these connections are lost, leaving each muscle fibre innervated by a single axon.
Synapse elimination is thought to result from competition between axon terminals innervating the same end-plate. There is some debate as to whether there is also an 'intrinsic withdrawal' component in synapse elimination. Thompson & Jansen (1977) and Fladby & Jansen (1987) found, in rat and mouse soleus muscles respectively, that motor unit size decreases during development even in the absence of competition resulting in the complete denervation of some muscle fibres. Betz et al. (1980) and Fisher et al. (1989) found no such decrease in rat 4th deep lumbrical (4DL) and rat soleus muscles respectively.
Until now the methods available for estimating motor unit size have been indirect and inherently inaccurate. Now it is possible to directly visualise motor axons and end-plates and thus it is possible to obtain a more direct measurement of average motor unit size during development.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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