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Papers of the Week

Papers: 25 Jan 2020 - 31 Jan 2020

Animal Studies

2020 Jan/Feb




Identification of a sacral, visceral sensory transcriptome in embryonic and adult mice.


Smith-Anttila C, Mason EA, Wells CA, Aronow BJ, Osborne PB, Keast JR
eNeuro. 2020 Jan/Feb; 7(1).
PMID: 31996391.


Visceral sensory neurons encode distinct sensations from healthy organs and initiate pain states that are resistant to common analgesics. Transcriptome analysis is transforming our understanding of sensory neuron subtypes but has generally focused on somatic sensory neurons or the total population of neurons in which visceral neurons form the minority. Our aim was to define transcripts specifically expressed by sacral visceral sensory neurons, as a step towards understanding the unique biology of these neurons and potentially leading to identification of new analgesic targets for pelvic visceral pain. Our strategy was to identify genes differentially expressed between sacral dorsal root ganglia (DRG) that include somatic neurons and sacral visceral neurons, and adjacent lumbar DRG that comprise exclusively of somatic sensory neurons. This was performed in adult and E18.5 male and female mice. By developing a method to restrict analyses to nociceptive Trpv1 neurons, a larger group of genes were detected as differentially expressed between spinal levels. We identified many novel genes that had not previously been associated with pelvic visceral sensation or nociception. Limited sex differences were detected across the transcriptome of sensory ganglia, but more were revealed in sacral levels and especially in Trpv1 nociceptive neurons. These data will facilitate development of new tools to modify mature and developing sensory neurons and nociceptive pathways. In this study of mouse dorsal root ganglia, we have identified numerous features of sensory neurons that vary between lumbar and sacral spinal levels and that are potentially involved in unique physiology and pathophysiology of visceral sensation and pain. We further identify maturational components of this sacral visceral transcriptome by comparing data from embryonic and adult mice. There are limited sex differences across the transcriptome of embryonic or adult sensory ganglia, but in adults these can be revealed in sacral levels and especially in Trpv1 nociceptive neurons. These data sets will encourage identification of new tools to modify mature or developing sensory neurons and adult nociceptive pathways.