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Crayfish Neuromuscular Junction - DISSECTION page 1
Dissection 1       Dissection 2     Recording    Crayfish Home
Below are shown some of the key steps in the dissection of the crayfish neuromuscular junction, located in the the first walking leg.  This particular neuromuscular junction is used because of (1) its rich repetoire of synaptic plasticity, from short to long term facilitation, (2) the accessibility of the presynaptic axon, (3) its rich repetoire of reponses to neuromodulators, (4) its simplicity. 

Despite the fact that this preparation is simple, it is complicated enough to allow many types of detailed experiments to be performed.  The preparation contains one excitatory axon, one inhibitory axon and a number of muscle fibers.  Both axons innervate the muscle fibers and the inhibitory axon also makes presynaptic inhibitory synapses on the excitatory axon.

Identifying the "first walking leg"
Click HERE for a short video explanation (3MB, mpg format).
The neuromuscular junction studied is located in the first walking leg, shown by the scissors in the left photo and by the orange arrow in the right photo.



Mounting the first walking leg in the dissecting/recording chamber
Click HERE for a short video (7MB, mpg format).
Before a recording can be made, the first walking leg must be dissected.
The proximal portion of the leg is stuck to the blue tape so the leg can be held in position while the 3 distal segments are glued to the dish. The leg angle is adjusted so the 3 distal segments can be flat in the dish.

A thin streak of glue is applied to the bottom of the plastic dish.

The three distal segments are gently pressed down so they lie very flat. The leg needs well adhered to the dish so it does not move during the recording.

The job is finished. The blue tape can now be removed from the most proximal segment.  This segment will later be dissected to expose the innervating nerve bundle.


The dissecting apparatus
Dissecting scope with fiber optic lighting.
A close-up view of the recording dish under the dissecting scope. The forceps are touching the proximal portion of leg (the part that was stuck to the blue tape, above), which will be opened to expose the nerve bundle.
Click HERE for a short video giving an overview of the crayfish preparation (3MB, mpg format).


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