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Segregation of Axial Motor and Sensory Pathways via Heterotypic Trans-Axonal Signaling

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Science  11 Apr 2008:
Vol. 320, Issue 5873, pp. 233-236
DOI: 10.1126/science.1153758

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Abstract

Execution of motor behaviors relies on circuitries effectively integrating immediate sensory feedback to efferent pathways controlling muscle activity. It remains unclear how, during neuromuscular circuit assembly, sensory and motor projections become incorporated into tightly coordinated, yet functionally separate pathways. We report that, within axial nerves, establishment of discrete afferent and efferent pathways depends on coordinate signaling between coextending sensory and motor projections. These heterotypic axon-axon interactions require motor axonal EphA3/EphA4 receptor tyrosine kinases activated by cognate sensory axonal ephrin-A ligands. Genetic elimination of trans-axonal ephrin-A → EphA signaling in mice triggers drastic motor-sensory miswiring, culminating in functional efferents within proximal afferent pathways. Effective assembly of a key circuit underlying motor behaviors thus critically depends on trans-axonal signaling interactions resolving motor and sensory projections into discrete pathways.

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