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Published October 30, 1998 | public
Journal Article

Functionally Related Motor Neuron Pool and Muscle Sensory Afferent Subtypes Defined by Coordinate ETS Gene Expression


Motor function depends on the formation of selective connections between sensory and motor neurons and their muscle targets. The molecular basis of the specificity inherent in this sensory-motor circuit remains unclear. We show that motor neuron pools and subsets of muscle sensory afferents can be defined by the expression of ETS genes, notably PEA3 and ER81. There is a matching in PEA3 and ER81 expression by functionally interconnected sensory and motor neurons. ETS gene expression by motor and sensory neurons fails to occur after limb ablation, suggesting that their expression is coordinated by signals from the periphery. ETS genes may therefore participate in the development of selective sensory-motor circuits in the spinal cord.

Additional Information

© 1998 Cell Press Under an Elsevier user license. Received 2 July 1998, Revised 10 September 1998, Available online 29 September 2000. We are indebted to E. Frank for discussions on sensory-motor specificity and comments on the manuscript. L. Landmesser and M. Hollyday provided insight into motor neuron organization and function. We thank S. Pfaff and T. Tsuchida for participation in the initial studies on ETS expression, J. Gogos for help with the statistical analysis, J. Hassell for information on ETS genes and reagents, S. Morton for help in antibody generation, L. Reichardt for TrkC and TrkA antibodies, and M. Ensini and C. Stern for guidance on retrograde labeling and limb ablation. We are grateful to R. Axel for comments on the manuscript, and K. MacArthur and I. Schieren provided excellent assistance in its preparation. J. H. L. was supported by a training grant from the NIH. S. A. was supported by a HFSP Fellowship. T. M. J. is supported by grants from the NIH. C. L. J. is supported by NIH grant HD25676. T. M. J. and D. J. A. are Investigators of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

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