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

Distribution of motoneurons supplying feline neck muscles taking origin from the shoulder girdle.

A combination of fluorescent retrograde tracers and horseradish peroxidase (HRP) was used to compare the spinal distributions of motoneurons supplying shoulder muscles with attachments to the skull and cervical spinal cord that suggest a significant role in head movement. Two muscles, the rhomboideus and the levator scapulae, were innervated by multiple segmental nerve bundles that entered the muscles at different rostrocaudal locations. Motoneurons that were labelled retrogradely from rhomboideus nerve bundles formed a single, long column in the ventral horn from C4 to C6, lateral to previously studied motor nuclei supplying deep neck muscles. When different tracers were used to differentiate motoneurons supplying specific nerve bundles, discrete subnuclei could be identified that were organized in a rostrocaudal sequence corresponding to the rostrocaudal order of the nerve bundles. Levator scapulae motoneurons formed a second elongate column immediately lateral to the rhomboidues motor nucleus. Three other muscles, that trapezius, sternomastoideus, and cleidomastoideus, were supplied by cranial nerve XI. Labelled motoneurons from these muscles formed a single column from the spinomedullary junction to middle C6. Within this column, the three motor nuclei supplying the sternomastoideus, cleidomastoideus, and trapezius were laminated mediolaterally. Sternomastoideus and cleidomastoideus motoneurons were confined to upper cervical segments, whereas trapezius motoneurons were found from C1 to C6. In C1 and C6, the motoneuron column was located centrally in the gray matter, but, between C2 and C5, the column lay on the lateral wall of the ventral horn in a position dorsolateral to motor nuclei supplying the rhomboideus and the deeper neck muscles. The findings in this study suggest that descending and propriospinal systems responsible for coordinating head movement may have to descend as far caudally as C6 if they are to project onto muscles controlling the mobility of the lower neck.[1]


  1. Distribution of motoneurons supplying feline neck muscles taking origin from the shoulder girdle. Liinamaa, T.L., Keane, J., Richmond, F.J. J. Comp. Neurol. (1997) [Pubmed]
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