The assembly of filamentous elements and their relations to the plasma membrane and to the nuclear pores have been studied in Deiters' neurons of rabbit brain. Electron microscopy of thin sections and of ectoplasm spread preparations have been integrated with physicochemical experiments and differential interference microscopy of freshly isolated cells. A neurofilamentous network extends as a continuous, three-dimensional, semilattice structure throughout the ectoplasm, the "plasma roads," and the perinuclear zone of the perikaryon. This space network consists of ∼90-Å wide neurofilaments arranged in fascicles which are interconnected by an exchange of neurofilaments. The neurofilaments consist of intercoiled ∼20-Å wide unit-filaments and are associated through cross-associating filaments with other neurofilaments of the fascicle and with microfilaments. The ∼20–50-Å wide microfilaments display intimate associations with the plasma membrane and with the nuclear pores. Electron microscopy of thin sections from glycerinated and heavy meromyosin-treated Deiters' neurons shows that actin-like filaments are present in the pre- and postsynaptic regions of synapses terminating on these neurons.
It is proposed that the neurofilamentous space network serves a transducing function by linking plasma membrane activities with the genetic machinery of the neuron.