For decades, scientists thought acetylcholine was the only neurotransmitter responsible for controlling how muscles and nerves are wired together during development. Turns out, they were wrong. Glutamate, the most common neurotransmitter in the brain, is also necessary.
/…/ Each muscle is made of many individual muscle fibers and, in adults, each of those muscle fibers is contacted by a single motor neuron. However, this simple arrangement is not what you see at birth. Instead, each muscle fiber is contacted by as many as 10 nerves. The process that allows one motor neuron to stay while all the others are retracted seems to be this, according to the researchers: the nerve that’s most effective in activating the muscle is the one that wins.
/…/ The researchers tested their hypothesis—that glutamate receptor activation modulates the development of the neuromuscular system—in several ways, each of which supported what they thought. In addition, they showed that the response of the muscle to glutamate is very strong at birth, but quickly disappears as mice mature.
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