The hypotheses that selective formation of nerve-muscle connections depends upon intrinsic cellular properties, endowed either by the cell's rostral-caudal position in the embryo or its lineage, were tested directly in Xenopus embryonic cell cultures. The position or the lineage of embryonic cells was traced in vitro by previous injection of fluorophore-conjugated dextran molecules into individual blastomeres. Synaptic efficacy was assayed by recording synaptic currents from neurite-contacted muscle cells in the culture, and the physical affinity of neurites for muscle cells of different positional or clonal origins was assayed by counting the frequency of association between the neurites' growth cones and the muscle cells. Both assays showed no apparent preference between nerve and muscle cells of similar rostral-caudal positions or clonal origins, suggesting that there is little position- or lineage-dependent selectivity in the initial nerve-muscle interactions.
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