Nerve-muscle interactions regulate motor terminal growth and myoblast distribution during muscle development

Ronald J. Bayline, Carsten Duch, Richard B. Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Interactions between motoneurons and muscles influence many aspects of neuromuscular development in all animals. These interactions can be readily investigated during adult muscle development in holometabolous insects. In this study, the development of the dorsolongitudinal flight muscle (DLM) and its innervation is investigated in the moth, Manduca sexta, to address the specificity of neuromuscular interactions. The DLM develops from an anlage containing both regressed larval template fibers and imaginal myoblasts. In the adult, each fiber bundle (DLM1-5) is innervated by a single motoneuron (MN1-MN5), with the dorsal-most fiber bundle (DLM5) innervated by a mesothoracic motoneuron (MN5). The DLM failed to develop following complete denervation because myoblasts failed to accumulate in the DLM anlage. After lesioning MN1-4, MN5 retained its specificity for the DLM5 region of the anlage and failed to rescue DLM1-4. Thus specific innervation of the DLM fiber bundles does not depend on interactions among motoneurons. Myoblast accumulation, but not myonuclear proliferation, increased around the MN5 terminals, producing a hypertrophied adult DLM5. Therefore, motoneurons compete for uncommitted myoblasts. MN5 terminals subsequently grew more rapidly over the hypertrophied DLM5 anlage, indicating that motoneuron terminal expansion is regulated by the size of the target muscle anlage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)348-363
Number of pages16
JournalDevelopmental biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 15 2001


  • Accumulation
  • Insect
  • Metamorphosis
  • Neuromuscular
  • Proliferation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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