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Mechanoreceptor Synapses in the Brainstem Shape the Central Representation of Touch

61 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2021 Publication Status: Published

See all articles by Brendan P. Lehnert

Brendan P. Lehnert

Harvard Medical School - Department of Neurobiology

Celine Santiago

Harvard Medical School - Department of Neurobiology

Erica L. Huey

Harvard Medical School - Department of Neurobiology

Alan J. Emanuel

Harvard Medical School - Department of Neurobiology

Sophia Renauld

Harvard Medical School - Department of Neurobiology

Nusrat Africawala

Harvard Medical School - Department of Neurobiology

Ilayda Alkislar

Harvard Medical School - Department of Neurobiology

Yang Zheng

Harvard Medical School - Department of Neurobiology

Ling Bai

Harvard Medical School - Department of Neurobiology

Charalampia Koutsioumpa

Harvard Medical School - Department of Neurobiology

Jennifer T. Hong

Harvard Medical School - Department of Neurobiology

Alexandra R. Magee

Harvard Medical School - Department of Neurobiology

Christopher D. Harvey

Harvard Medical School - Department of Neurobiology

David D. Ginty

Harvard Medical School - Department of Neurobiology; Harvard Medical School - Howard Hughes Medical Institute

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Abstract

Mammals use the glabrous (hairless) skin of their hands and feet to navigate and manipulate their environment. Cortical maps of the body surface across species contain disproportionately large numbers of neurons dedicated to glabrous skin sensation, potentially reflecting a higher density of mechanoreceptors that innervate these skin regions. Here, we find that disproportionate representation of glabrous skin emerges over postnatal development at the first synapse between peripheral mechanoreceptors and their central targets in the brainstem. Mechanoreceptor synapses undergo developmental refinement that depends on proximity of their terminals to glabrous skin, such that those innervating glabrous skin make synaptic connections that expand their central representation. In mice that do not sense gentle touch, mechanoreceptors innervating glabrous skin still make more powerful synapses in the brainstem. We propose that the skin region a mechanoreceptor innervates controls refinement of its central synapses over development to shape the representation of touch in the brain.

Suggested Citation

Lehnert, Brendan P. and Santiago, Celine and Huey, Erica L. and Emanuel, Alan J. and Renauld, Sophia and Africawala, Nusrat and Alkislar, Ilayda and Zheng, Yang and Bai, Ling and Koutsioumpa, Charalampia and Hong, Jennifer T. and Magee, Alexandra R. and Harvey, Christopher D. and Ginty, David D., Mechanoreceptor Synapses in the Brainstem Shape the Central Representation of Touch. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3787905 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3787905
This version of the paper has not been formally peer reviewed.

Brendan P. Lehnert

Harvard Medical School - Department of Neurobiology ( email )

220 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Celine Santiago

Harvard Medical School - Department of Neurobiology ( email )

220 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Erica L. Huey

Harvard Medical School - Department of Neurobiology ( email )

220 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Alan J. Emanuel

Harvard Medical School - Department of Neurobiology ( email )

220 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Sophia Renauld

Harvard Medical School - Department of Neurobiology ( email )

220 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Nusrat Africawala

Harvard Medical School - Department of Neurobiology ( email )

220 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Ilayda Alkislar

Harvard Medical School - Department of Neurobiology ( email )

220 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Yang Zheng

Harvard Medical School - Department of Neurobiology

220 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Ling Bai

Harvard Medical School - Department of Neurobiology

220 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Charalampia Koutsioumpa

Harvard Medical School - Department of Neurobiology ( email )

220 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Jennifer T. Hong

Harvard Medical School - Department of Neurobiology ( email )

220 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Alexandra R. Magee

Harvard Medical School - Department of Neurobiology ( email )

220 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Christopher D. Harvey

Harvard Medical School - Department of Neurobiology ( email )

220 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

David D. Ginty (Contact Author)

Harvard Medical School - Department of Neurobiology ( email )

220 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Harvard Medical School - Howard Hughes Medical Institute

220 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

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