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Papers of the Week

Papers: 21 Jan 2023 - 3 Feb 2023

2023 Jan 23

Nat Commun



Editor's Pick

Cross-species transcriptomic atlas of dorsal root ganglia reveals species-specific programs for sensory function.


Jung M, Dourado M, Maksymetz J, Jacobson A, Laufer BI, Baca M, Foreman O, Hackos DH, Riol-Blanco L, Kaminker JS
Nat Commun. 2023 Jan 23; 14(1):366.
PMID: 36690629.


Sensory neurons of the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) are critical for maintaining tissue homeostasis by sensing and initiating responses to stimuli. While most preclinical studies of DRGs are conducted in rodents, much less is known about the mechanisms of sensory perception in primates. We generated a transcriptome atlas of mouse, guinea pig, cynomolgus monkey, and human DRGs by implementing a common laboratory workflow and multiple data-integration approaches to generate high-resolution cross-species mappings of sensory neuron subtypes. Using our atlas, we identified conserved core modules highlighting subtype-specific biological processes related to inflammatory response. We also identified divergent expression of key genes involved in DRG function, suggesting species-specific adaptations specifically in nociceptors that likely point to divergent function of nociceptors. Among these, we validated that TAFA4, a member of the druggable genome, was expressed in distinct populations of DRG neurons across species, highlighting species-specific programs that are critical for therapeutic development.