The motor nuclei of the oculomotor, trochlear, and abducens nerves of the reptile Varanus exanthematicus and the neurons that subserve the sensory innervation of the extraocular muscles were identified and localized by retrograde and anterograde transport of horseradish peroxidase (HRP). The highly differentiated oculomotor nuclear complex, located dorsomedially in the tegmentum of the midbrain, consists of the accessory oculomotor nucleus and the dorsomedial, dorsolateral, intermediate, and ventral subnuclei. The accessory oculomotor nucleus projects ipsilaterally to the ciliary ganglion. The dorsomedial, dorsolateral, and intermediate subnuclei distribute their axons to the ipsilateral orbit, whereas the ventral subnucleus, which innervates the superior rectus muscle, has a bilateral, though predominantly contralateral projection. The trochlear nucleus, which rostrally overlaps the oculomotor nuclear complex, is for the greater part a comma-shaped cell group situated lateral, dorsal, and medial to the medial longitudinal fasciculus. Following HRP application to the trochlear nerve, almost all retrogradely labeled cells were found in the contralateral nucleus. The nuclear complex of the abducens nerve consists of the principal and accessory abducens nuclei, both of which project ipsilaterally. The principal abducens nucleus is located just beneath the fourth ventricle laterally adjacent to the medial longitudinal fasciculus and innervates the posterior rectus muscle. The accessory abducens nucleus has a ventrolateral position in the brainstem in close approximation to the ophthalmic fibers of the descending trigeminal tract. It innervates the retractor bulbi and bursalis muscles. The fibers arising in the accessory abducens muscles form a loop in or just beneath the principal abducens nucleus before they join the abducens nerve root. The afferent fibers conveying sensory information from the extraocular muscles course in the oculomotor nerve and have their perikarya in the ipsilateral trigeminal ganglion, almost exclusively in its ophthalmic portion.
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