Following amputation of the limb of the newt, Triturus viridescens, muscle fibers dedifferentiate giving rise to mesenchymal cells. The earliest changes detected in neuromuscular junctions of dedifferentiating muscle fibers are the appearance of a few vacuoles and decrease in density of the terminal axoplasm. Later, synaptic vesicles become tightly clustered in the axon termination, and their content appears denser than normal. Then, vesicles diminish in number until few are seen in the ending. While these changes are occurring, the area of contact of nerve with muscle becomes smaller. Junctional folds persist only where the nerve maintains contact with muscle, but these are shorter than normal and appear as slight ridges on the muscle surface. Subsequently, the nerve withdraws from the muscle cell and is completely invested by Schwann cell cytoplasm, and all traces of junctional folds are lost at the former region of contact. Cholinesterase activity was localized with the thiolacetic acid-lead nitrate method. Even before marked morphological changes occur in the junction, DFP- and physostigmine-sensitive activity in the cleft between nerve and muscle is decreased in intensity. Activity continues to decrease as the area of nerve-muscle contact diminishes and junctional folds disappear. When the nerve has withdrawn from the muscle surface, only a few small deposits of lead are left in the intervening region. These results show that as muscle becomes less specialized during dedifferentiation, the neuromuscular junction also loses the cytological and cytochemical specializations associated with synaptic function.

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