Epibranchial ganglia orchestrate the development of the cranial neurogenic crest

Abstract

The wiring of the nervous system arises from extensive directional migration of neuronal cell bodies and growth of processes that, somehow, end up forming functional circuits. Thus far, this feat of biological engineering appears to rely on sequences of pathfinding decisions upon local cues, each with little relationship to the anatomical and physiological outcome. Here, we uncover a straightforward cellular mechanism for circuit building whereby a neuronal type directs the development of its future partners. We show that visceral afferents of the head (that innervate taste buds) provide a scaffold for the establishment of visceral efferents (that innervate salivatory glands and blood vessels). In embryological terms, sensory neurons derived from an epibranchial placode--that we show to develop largely independently from the neural crest--guide the directional outgrowth of hindbrain visceral motoneurons and control the formation of neural crest-derived parasympathetic ganglia.

Journal details

Volume 107
Issue number 5
Pages 2066-2071
Publication date

Keywords