Cupulae in Shark Neuromasts: Composition, Origin, Generation

Science  17 May 1968:
Vol. 160, Issue 3829, pp. 772-774
DOI: 10.1126/science.160.3829.772


Cupulae on the surface of the sensory epithelium of canal neuromasts of the shark lateralis system have been demonstrated. They are mounds of mucoid material secreted primarily by the supporting cells of the neuromast epithelium. Individual columns of mucus in fixed, stained sections produce striations perpendicular to the neuromast surface. The hair of the sensory cell is embedded in mucus at the bases of coalescing columns produced by a group of surrounding supporting cells. There is evidence that mucus production is continuous and is accompanied by regeneration of secretory cells and elimination of necrotic cells at the distal surface. It follows that cupular material is being discarded either intermittantly or continually, along with trapped cell debris and other detritus.