Article

Metamorphosis-induced changes in the coupling of spinal thoraco-lumbar motor outputs during swimming in Xenopus laevis.

Université de Bordeaux, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Laboratoire Mouvement Adaptation Cognition (UMR 5227) Bordeaux, France.
Journal of Neurophysiology (Impact Factor: 3.3). 08/2008; 100(3):1372-83. DOI:10.1152/jn.00023.2008
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Anuran metamorphosis includes a complete remodeling of the animal's biomechanical apparatus, requiring a corresponding functional reorganization of underlying central neural circuitry. This involves changes that must occur in the coordination between the motor outputs of different spinal segments to harmonize locomotor and postural functions as the limbs grow and the tail regresses. In premetamorphic Xenopus laevis tadpoles, axial motor output drives rostrocaudally propagating segmental myotomal contractions that generate propulsive body undulations. During metamorphosis, the anterior axial musculature of the tadpole progressively evolves into dorsal muscles in the postmetamorphic froglet in which some of these back muscles lose their implicit locomotor function to serve exclusively in postural control in the adult. To understand how locomotor and postural systems interact during locomotion in juvenile Xenopus, we have investigated the coordination between postural back and hindlimb muscle activity during free forward swimming. Axial/dorsal muscles, which contract in bilateral alternation during undulatory swimming in premetamorphic tadpoles, change their left-right coordination to become activated in phase with bilaterally synchronous hindlimb extensions in locomoting juveniles. Based on in vitro electrophysiological experiments as well as specific spinal lesions in vivo, a spinal cord region was delimited in which propriospinal interactions are directly responsible for the coordination between leg and back muscle contractions. Our findings therefore indicate that dynamic postural adjustments during adult Xenopus locomotion are mediated by local intraspinal pathways through which the lumbar generator for hindlimb propulsive kicking provides caudorostral commands to thoracic spinal circuitry controlling the dorsal trunk musculature.

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