Somatosensory neuron types and their functions



Time: 14:00-15:30, November 15, 2017

Venue:  143 Building of Life Sciences


Speaker: Professor Xu Zhang, Academician of CAS; Vice President, Shanghai Institute of Biological Sciences, CAS 

Host: Professor Yi Zhong, Director of Tsinghua McGovern Institute for Brain Research


Title: Somatosensory neuron types and their functions 


Neuron types are traditionally classified by their morphological, anatomical and physiological properties. Recently, the single-cell RNA-sequencing has been used to study the neuron types. Using the high-coverage single-cell RNA sequencing and in vivo electrophysiological recording, we analyzed the transcriptome and functions of somatosensory neurons in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) of mice. Ten types and fourteen subtypes of DRG neurons have been identified, including six types of mechanoheat nociceptors (Li et al., Cell Research, 2016). We are also analyzing the changes of DRG neuron types and subtypes in the mouse models of chronic pain. Moreover, we investigate the molecular network and mechanism responsible for heat nociception in these mechanoheat nociceptors. Fibroblast growth factor 13 (FGF13), which is a non-secretory protein, was highly expressed in five types of mechanoheat nociceptors. We found that the loss of FGF13 in the mouse DRG neurons selectively abolished the heat nociception (Yang et al., Neuron, 2017). FGF13 interacted with Nav1.7 and maintained the membrane localization of Nav1.7 during noxious heat stimulation, enabling the sustained firing of action potentials. The FGF13/Nav1.7 complex is essential for sustaining the transmission of noxious heat signals. Finally, we suggest that neuron types should be defined based on their transcriptome, morphology and function. Such a classification of neuron types is important for revealing the pain mechanisms under the physiological and pathological conditions. 



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