Immunohistochemical and ultrastructural analysis of the maturing larval zebrafish enteric nervous system reveals the formation of a neuropil pattern
Baker, Phillip A.; Meyer, Matthew D.; Tsang, Ashley; Uribe, Rosa A.
The gastrointestinal tract is constructed with an intrinsic series of interconnected ganglia that span its entire length, called the enteric nervous system (ENS). The ENS exerts critical local reflex control over many essential gut functions; including peristalsis, water balance, hormone secretions and intestinal barrier homeostasis. ENS ganglia exist as a collection of neurons and glia that are arranged in a series of plexuses throughout the gut: the myenteric plexus and submucosal plexus. While it is known that enteric ganglia are derived from a stem cell population called the neural crest, mechanisms that dictate final neuropil plexus organization remain obscure. Recently, the vertebrate animal, zebrafish, has emerged as a useful model to understand ENS development, however knowledge of its developing myenteric plexus architecture was unknown. Here, we examine myenteric plexus of the maturing zebrafish larval fish histologically over time and find that it consists of a series of tight axon layers and long glial cell processes that wrap the circumference of the gut tube to completely encapsulate it, along all levels of the gut. By late larval stages, complexity of the myenteric plexus increases such that a layer of axons is juxtaposed to concentric layers of glial cells. Ultrastructurally, glial cells contain glial filaments and make intimate contacts with one another in long, thread-like projections. Conserved indicators of vesicular axon profiles are readily abundant throughout the larval plexus neuropil. Together, these data extend our understanding of myenteric plexus architecture in maturing zebrafish, thereby enabling functional studies of its formation in the future.