Indexed on: 02 Dec '11Published on: 02 Dec '11Published in: PloS one
Binocular vision requires intricate control of eye movement to align overlapping visual fields for fusion in the visual cortex, and each eye is controlled by 6 extraocular muscles (EOMs). Disorders of EOMs are an important cause of symptomatic vision loss. Importantly, EOMs represent specialized skeletal muscles with distinct gene expression profile and susceptibility to neuromuscular disorders. We aim to investigate and describe the anatomy of adult zebrafish extraocular muscles (EOMs) to enable comparison with human EOM anatomy and facilitate the use of zebrafish as a model for EOM research. Using differential interference contrast (DIC), epifluorescence microscopy, and precise sectioning techniques, we evaluate the anatomy of zebrafish EOM origin, muscle course, and insertion on the eye. Immunofluorescence is used to identify components of tendons, basement membrane and neuromuscular junctions (NMJs), and to analyze myofiber characteristics. We find that adult zebrafish EOM insertions on the globe parallel the organization of human EOMs, including the close proximity of specific EOM insertions to one another. However, analysis of EOM origins reveals important differences between human and zebrafish, such as the common rostral origin of both oblique muscles and the caudal origin of the lateral rectus muscles. Thrombospondin 4 marks the EOM tendons in regions that are highly innervated, and laminin marks the basement membrane, enabling evaluation of myofiber size and distribution. The NMJs appear to include both en plaque and en grappe synapses, while NMJ density is much higher in EOMs than in somatic muscles. In conclusion, zebrafish and human EOM anatomy are generally homologous, supporting the use of zebrafish for studying EOM biology. However, anatomic differences exist, revealing divergent evolutionary pressures.