The longitudinal muscle of the earthworm body wall is innervated by nerve bundles containing axons of two types which form two corresponding types of myoneural junction with the muscle fibers Type I junctions resemble cholinergic neuromuscular junctions of vertebrate skeletal muscle and are characterized by three features: (a) The nerve terminals contain large numbers of spherical, clear, ∼500 A vesicles plus a small number of larger dense-cored vesicles (b) The junctional gap is relatively wide (∼900 A), and it contains a basement membrane-like material, (c) The postjunctional membrane, although not folded, displays prominent specializations on both its external and internal surfaces The cytoplasmic surface is covered by a dense matrix ∼200 A thick which appears to be the site of insertion of fine obliquely oriented cytoplasmic filaments The external surface exhibits rows of projections ∼200 A long whose bases consist of hexagonally arrayed granules seated in the outer dense layer of the plasma membrane The concentration of these hexagonally disposed elements corresponds to the estimated concentration of both receptor sites and acetylcholinesterase sites at cholinergic junctions elsewhere. Type II junctions resemble the adrenergic junctions in vertebrate smooth muscle and exhibit the following structural characteristics: (a) The nerve fibers contain predominantly dense-cored vesicles ∼1000 A in diameter (b) The junctional gap is relatively narrow (∼150 A) and contains no basement membrane-like material, (c) Postjunctional membrane specialization is minimal. It is proposed that the structural differences between the two types of myoneural junction reflect differences in the respective transmitters and corresponding differences in the mechanisms of transmitter action and/or inactivation.

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