Dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons are the predominant cell type that innervates the vertebrate skin. They are typically described as pseudounipolar cells that have central and peripheral axons branching from a single root exiting the cell body. The peripheral axon travels within a nerve to the skin, where free sensory endings can emerge and branch into an arbor that receives and integrates information. In some immature vertebrates, DRG neurons are preceded by Rohon-Beard (RB) neurons. While the sensory endings of RB and DRG neurons function like dendrites, we use live imaging in zebrafish to show that they have axonal plus-end-out microtubule polarity at all stages of maturity. Moreover, we show both cell types have central and peripheral axons with plus-end-out polarity. Surprisingly, in DRG neurons these emerge separately from the cell body, and most cells never acquire the signature pseudounipolar morphology. Like another recently characterized cell type that has multiple plus-end-out neurites, ganglion cells in Nematostella, RB and DRG neurons maintain a somatic microtubule organizing center even when mature. In summary, we characterize key cellular and subcellular features of vertebrate sensory neurons as a foundation for understanding their function and maintenance.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Developmental Biology
- Cell Biology