Regional innervation of rabbit ciliary ganglion cells by the terminals of preganglionic axons.
In the rabbit, ciliary ganglion neurons with dendrites maintain inputs from several different axons during the period of synaptic rearrangement that occurs in early postnatal life. Neurons without dendrites, on the other hand, lose the majority of their initial inputs and are innervated in maturity by the terminals of only one or two axons (Purves, D., and R.I. Hume (1981) J. Neurosci. 1: 441-452; Hume, R.I., and D. Purves (1981) Nature 293: 469-471). We have explored the basis of this phenomenon by individually marking preganglionic axons and the neurons they innervate with horseradish peroxidase. In general, the innervation of geometrically complex (multiply innervated) neurons by individual preganglionic axons is regional. That is, the synaptic contacts made by an axon on these neurons are limited to a portion of the postsynaptic surface that includes some, but not all, of the dendrites. This regional innervation of target neurons is consistent with the view that dendrites allow multiple innervation to persist by providing relatively separate postsynaptic domains for individual preganglionic axons. Such regional innervation may mitigate competitive interactions between the several axons which initially innervate the same neuron.
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