We have examined growth cones and neurites of cultured central nervous system neurons by high-voltage electron microscopy. Embryonic chicken retina cells were cultured on polylysine-treated and Formvar-coated gold grids for 2-6 days, fixed, and critical point dried. Growth cones and neurites were examined as unembedded whole mounts. Three-dimensional images from stereo-pair electron micrographs of these regions showed a high degree of ultrastructural articulation, with distinct, non-tapering filaments (5-9 nm in diameter) joining both cytoskeletal and membranous components. In the central regions of growth cones, interconnected structures included microtubules, large membranous sacs (up to 400 nm), and irregular vesicles (25-75 nm). A denser filamentous network was prevalent at the edges of growth cones. This network, which frequently adjoined the surface membrane, linked vesicles of uniform size (35-40 nm). Such vesicles often were seen densely packed in growth cone protrusions that were about the size of small synaptic boutons. Prevalent structural interconnections within growth cones conceivably could play a logistic role in specific membrane assembly, intracellular transport, endocytosis, and secretion. Because such processes are not unique to growth cones, the extensive linkages we have observed may have implications for cytoplasmic structure in general.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||5|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - 1983|
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