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Heterochronic neuromuscular junction development in an Australian marsupial (Macropus fuliginosus)

Etherington, S.J.ORCID: 0000-0002-6589-8793, Hong, I.H.K., Wong, C.J.W., Stephens, N. and Warburton, N.M.ORCID: 0000-0002-8498-3053 (2016) Heterochronic neuromuscular junction development in an Australian marsupial (Macropus fuliginosus). Journal of Zoology, 300 (1). pp. 27-35.

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The neuromuscular junction (NMJ) provides a connection between the somatic nervous and muscular systems. The present work documents, for the first time, the mature form of the NMJ in an Australian marsupial, the western gray kangaroo Macropus fuliginosus. Marsupials give birth to highly altricial young and the majority of motor system development thus occurs postnatally. We demonstrate that NMJ formation in the forelimbs of kangaroos precedes that in hindlimbs by several weeks, consistent with evidence of precocial forelimb development from other indices of motor system maturation in marsupials. Forelimb and hindlimb NMJs reach a similar level of development by the end of the first postnatal month, an outcome that results from accelerated hindlimb development in the early postnatal period together with a more unexpected stagnation or even regression of forelimb NMJ maturity over the same period. This study suggests that the pattern of NMJ maturation may be adjusted in forelimb as opposed to hindlimb. Elucidation of the underlying cellular control mechanisms may inform current understanding of NMJ formation, and as such the broader processes involved in synaptic formation.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Copyright: © 2016 The Zoological Society of London
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