Ultrastructure of an excitatory synapse

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6 Scopus citations


The ultrastructure of the afferent synapse in hair cells of the lateral line-canal organ was studied using different fixation and staining techniques. Glutaraldehyde-fixed tissue without post-osmication, contrasted by section staining with uranyl acetate and lead citrate, was compared with (a) osmium tetroxide-fixed tissue followed by the same staining procedure, and with (b) glutaraldehyde-fixed tissue, block-impregnated with phosphotungstic acid (PTA). The results reveal a pronounced heterogeneity in the composition of the synaptic body, reflecting regional differences in chemical affinity to the fixatives and staining agents. It is proposed that the "intracleft substance", the synaptic structure defined by the PTA staining technique, is actually due to the glutaraldehyde fixation procedure and is apparently the outer leaflet of the postsynaptic membrane. A special technique that allows alternate sections of a series to be differentially stained for electron microscopy is proposed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-298
Number of pages8
JournalCell and Tissue Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Aug 1979
Externally publishedYes


  • Excitatory synapse
  • Lateral line-canal organ
  • Lota lota (Teleostei)
  • Synaptic body
  • Ultrastructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology
  • Cell Biology


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