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Elife. 2018 Apr 19;7. pii: e35796. doi: 10.7554/eLife.35796.

Directional selectivity of afferent neurons in zebrafish neuromasts is regulated by Emx2 in presynaptic hair cells.

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Section on Sensory Cell Regeneration and Development, Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Bethesda, United States.
Section on Sensory Cell Development and Function, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, United States.


The orientation of hair bundles on top of sensory hair cells (HCs) in neuromasts of the lateral line system allows fish to detect direction of water flow. Each neuromast shows hair bundles arranged in two opposing directions and each afferent neuron innervates only HCs of the same orientation. Previously, we showed that this opposition is established by expression of Emx2 in half of the HCs, where it mediates hair bundle reversal (<xref ref-type="bibr" rid="bib15">Jiang et al., 2017</xref>). Here, we show that Emx2 also regulates neuronal selection: afferent neurons innervate either Emx2-positive or negative HCs. In emx2 knockout and gain-of-function neuromasts, all HCs are unidirectional and the innervation patterns and physiological responses of the afferent neurons are dependent on the presence or absence of Emx2. Our results indicate that Emx2 mediates the directional selectivity of neuromasts by two distinct processes: regulating hair bundle orientation in HCs and selecting afferent neuronal targets.


Vangl2; afferent neuron; axonal guidance; developmental biology; hair bundle polarity; neuronal selection; neuroscience; planar cell polarity; stem cells; zebrafish

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