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BMC Dev Biol. 2006 Nov 20;6:56.

Sensory defects in Necdin deficient mice result from a loss of sensory neurons correlated within an increase of developmental programmed cell death.

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Institut de Biologie du Développement de Marseille Luminy, Campus de Luminy Case 907 13288 Marseille Cedex 09, France. <>



The human NECDIN gene is involved in a neurodevelopmental disorder, Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS). Previously we reported a mouse Necdin knock-out model with similar defects to PWS patients. Despite the putative roles attributed to Necdin, mainly from in vitro studies, its in vivo function remains unclear. In this study, we investigate sensory-motor behaviour in Necdin deficient mice. We reveal cellular defects and analyse their cause.


We report sensory differences in Necdin deficient mice compared to wild type animals. These differences led us to investigate sensory neuron development in Necdin deficient mouse embryos. First, we describe the expression pattern of Necdin in developing DRGs and report a reduction of one-third in specified sensory neurons in dorsal roots ganglia and show that this neuronal loss is achieved by E13.5, when DRGs sensory neurons are specified. In parallel, we observed an increase of 41% in neuronal apoptosis during the wave of naturally occurring cell death at E12.5. Since it is assumed that Necdin is a P75NTR interactor, we looked at the P75NTR-expressing cell population in Necdin knock-out embryos. Unexpectedly, Necdin loss of function has no effect on p75NTR expressing neurons suggesting no direct genetic interaction between Necdin and P75NTR in this context. Although we exclude a role of Necdin in axonal outgrowth from spinal sensory neurons in early developmental stages; such a role could occur later in neuronal differentiation. Finally we also exclude an anti-proliferative role of Necdin in developing sensory neurons.


Overall, our data show clearly that, in early development of the nervous system, Necdin is an anti-apoptotic or survival factor.

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