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Brain Res Dev Brain Res. 2003 Oct 10;145(1):49-59.

Differing patterns of neurotrophin-receptor expressing neurons allow distinction of the transient Frorieps' ganglia from normal DRG before morphological differences appear.

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  • 1Faculty of Life Sciences, Gonda Research Center, Bar-Ilan University, 52900 Ramat-Gan, Israel.


The Frorieps' ganglia are dorsal root ganglia (DRG) that form and then degenerate during normal embryonic development of amniotes. Their degeneration or survival has been shown to be modulated by modifying expression of Hox-family and other genes involved in pattern formation, and by the mesodermal microenvironment of the cranial somites in which they develop. In ovo application of the neurotrophin NGF partially rescues DRG2 from degeneration. To further examine the potential role of neurotrophins in the life cycle of Frorieps' DRG we have now quantified the numbers of neurons expressing neurotrophin receptors trkA and trkC in avian Frorieps' ganglia (DRG2) and normal cervical DRG (DRG5). We have found that the Frorieps' DRG are different from normal DRG in terms of the numbers of neurons expressing these receptors. trkC-expressing neurons are generally lacking in DRG2, this is the earliest (St 18, E2.5) described difference between DRG2 and normal DRG, preceding morphological differences between these ganglia that appear at St 20. The difference between DRG2 and DRG5 in terms of numbers of trkA-expressing neurons is evident only at later embryonic stages, where DRG2 contains a higher proportion of trkA neurons than normal cervical DRG. The few trkC+ neurons present late in DRG2 development are not concentrated in the VL portion of the ganglion, the zone where trkC+ neurons are generally found in normal DRG. We also find that DRG2 neurons are smaller than those of normal DRG, this is true for both trkA+ and trkC+ populations. These data together therefore suggest that the neurons that survive in the Frorieps' ganglia at later stages belong almost exclusively to the trkA-expressing DM class DRG neurons. We further find that the differences in the populations of trkA/trkC between DRG2 and DRG5 result from signals from the mesodermal microenvironment, since DRG arising in cranial somites transplanted caudally contain few trkC+ neurons and a higher proportion of trkA+ cells than contralateral controls.

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