The giant nerve fiber of the squid (Loligo pealii L.) has been investigated in situ, and in fresh and fixed preparations, by differential interference microscopy and electron microscopy. A continuous, three-dimensional network, composed of threadlike elements, was disclosed in the axoplasm. The threadlike elements in the axoplasm are twisted as a whole into a steep, right-handed helix. In a peripheral ectoplasmic region, the elements are more parallel to one another and more densely packed than in a central endoplasmic core. The threadlike elements can be resolved into a hierarchy of decreasing order of size. Successive levels of the hierarchy are formed by the association of smaller elements into larger ones. The following levels in the hierarchy of network elements have been distinguished: 1–3-µ-wide threads, 0.1–0.35-µ-wide strands, and 70–250-A-wide unit-filament strands. The differential interference microscope selects, from the network, threads oriented at a specific angle to the long axis of the axon. The specific angle depends upon the orientation of the long axis of the axon relative to the direction of shear. It is postulated that the network configuration is expressed in the solid-state properties of the axoplasm essential for the normal functioning of the nerve fiber.

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