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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Neuronal ultrastructure and somatostatin immunolocalization in the ciliary ganglion of chicken and quail.

Ciliary and choroid neurons of the avian ciliary ganglion innervate different targets in the eye bulb. By light microscopic immunocytochemistry, somatostatin ( SOM) has been localized to a subset of ganglionic neurons believed to be, for the most part, choroid neurons. Although several studies have been published on the physiology, afferent and efferent innervation, and response to experimental injury of this population of cells, their morphological features are still unclear. This has led us to perform a fine structural and immunocytochemical study on the ciliary ganglia of adult chickens and quails to provide the first thorough characterization of the choroid neurons and to analyze whether or not they can be unequivocally identified by expression of SOM. Here, we show that standard and immuno-electron microscopy provide firm criteria for the distinction of ciliary and choroid neurons, whose populations overlap in cell size and territory of distribution. The satellite cell sheaths form compact myelin lamellae around ciliary neurons and flattened processes around choroid neurons. Moreover, ciliary neurons are innervated by a larger number of boutons than choroid neurons. Chicken ciliary neurons are invested by boutons only over one pole of the cell body, while their quail counterparts have an almost complete shell of presynaptic boutons over the entire cell body. Ciliary neurons form mixed synaptic junctions (chemical and electrical), while choroid neurons form only chemical synapses. Crest synapses are present in ciliary neurons of both species. Nematosomes occur in both ciliary and choroid neurons. Choroid neurons contain a larger complement of large dense core vesicles than ciliary neurons and their Golgi apparatuses are more prominent. In the light microscope, somatostatin-immunostaining appears noticeably different in the two species: mostly granular in the chicken and skein-shaped in the quail. Immuno-electron microscopy reveals that somatostatin-like immunoreactivity is localized to Golgi apparatus and large dense core vesicles. Somatostatin is expressed by all the choroid neurons, but not by the ciliary neurons. This neuropeptide is, therefore, a true cell population marker.[1]


  1. Neuronal ultrastructure and somatostatin immunolocalization in the ciliary ganglion of chicken and quail. De Stefano, M.E., Ciofi Luzzatto, A., Mugnaini, E. J. Neurocytol. (1993) [Pubmed]
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