Teasing preparations of cat extraocular muscles (EOM) were used to study the arrangement of muscle fibers and the distribution of the different cholinesterase-positive sites, i.e. (1) large motor endplates, (2) small motor endings of the “en grappe” type, (3) myotendinous junctions and (4) myomyous junctions. The distribution of these cholinesterase-positive structures gives clear evidence of a complex muscle architecture of cat EOM. In the global layer of cat EOM, only multiply innervated muscle fibers run the whole length of the muscle. The focally innervated muscle fibers are generally shorter; they are usually arranged in series of two to three fibers being interconnected by myomyous junctions. Moreover, muscle fiber splitting is frequently present resulting in a netlike arrangement of muscle fibers. Most of the myomyous junctions occur between focally innervated muscle fibers, but also end-to-side connections of focally to multiply innervated muscle fibers are observed; multiply innervated muscle fibers have not been found connected to each other. In this layer, large motor endplates are distributed in several bands between origin and insertion. In the orbital layer all muscle fibers run from tendon to tendon, focally as well as multiply innervated ones. Here, large motor endplates are confined to a band in the middle of the muscle, and myomyous junctions are generally absent. Some functional implications of this complex architecture of cat EOM are discussed.
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