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Spinal Shox2 interneuron interconnectivity related to function and development

  1. Ngoc T Ha
  2. Kimberly J Dougherty  Is a corresponding author
  1. Drexel University College of Medicine, United States
Research Article
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Cite this article as: eLife 2018;7:e42519 doi: 10.7554/eLife.42519


Neuronal networks generating hindlimb locomotion are located in the spinal cord. The mechanisms underlying spinal rhythmogenesis are unknown but network activity and interconnectivity of excitatory interneurons likely play prominent roles. Here, we investigate interconnectivity within the Shox2 interneuron population, a subset of which has been shown to be involved in locomotor rhythm generation, using paired recordings in isolated spinal cords or slices from transgenic mice. Sparse unidirectional connections consistent with chemical synaptic transmission and prominent bidirectional connections mediated by electrical synapses were present within distinct subsets of Shox2 interneurons. Moreover, bidirectional electrical connections were preferentially found between functionally-related Shox2 interneurons. Though prevalent in neonatal mice, electrical coupling began to decline in incidence and strength in mice ~3 weeks of age. Overall, our data suggest that gap junctional coupling promotes synchronization of Shox2 interneurons, and may be implicated in locomotor rhythmicity in developing mice.

Data availability

All data generated or analyzed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files. Source data files have been provided for Figures 2Eii, 2Fii, 3C, 3F, 4B, 4D, 5B, 5C, 7C and 7D.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Ngoc T Ha

    Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Kimberly J Dougherty

    Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, United States
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-0807-574X


National Institutes of Health (R01 NS095366)

  • Kimberly J Dougherty

Wings for Life (WFL-US-003/15)

  • Kimberly J Dougherty

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.


Animal experimentation: All experimental procedures followed NIH guidelines and were approved by the Institutional AnimalCare and Use Committee at Drexel University (protocols 20317 and 20657).

Reviewing Editor

  1. Ronald L Calabrese, Emory University, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: October 3, 2018
  2. Accepted: December 27, 2018
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: December 31, 2018 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: January 15, 2019 (version 2)


© 2018, Ha & Dougherty

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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