1. Developmental Biology
  2. Neuroscience
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Intrinsic control of neuronal diversity and synaptic specificity in a proprioceptive circuit

  1. Maggie M Shin
  2. Catarina Catela
  3. Jeremy Dasen  Is a corresponding author
  1. NYU School of Medicine, United States
  2. University of Chicago, United States
Research Article
  • Cited 6
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Cite this article as: eLife 2020;9:e56374 doi: 10.7554/eLife.56374


Relay of muscle-derived sensory information to the CNS is essential for the execution of motor behavior, but how proprioceptive sensory neurons (pSNs) establish functionally appropriate connections is poorly understood. A prevailing model of sensory-motor circuit assembly is that peripheral, target-derived, cues instruct pSN identities and patterns of intraspinal connectivity. To date no known intrinsic determinants of muscle-specific pSN fates have been described in vertebrates. We show that expression of Hox transcription factors defines pSN subtypes, and these profiles are established independently of limb muscle. The Hoxc8 gene is expressed by pSNs and motor neurons (MNs) targeting distal forelimb muscles, and sensory-specific depletion of Hoxc8 in mice disrupts sensory-motor synaptic matching, without affecting pSN survival or muscle targeting. These results indicate that the diversity and central specificity of pSNs and MNs are regulated by a common set of determinants, thus linking early rostrocaudal patterning to the assembly of limb control circuits.

Data availability

All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Maggie M Shin

    Neuroscience and Physiology, NYU School of Medicine, New York, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Catarina Catela

    Department of Neurobiology, University of Chicago, Chicago, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Jeremy Dasen

    Neuroscience and Physiology, NYU School of Medicine, New York, 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:" 0000-0002-9434-874X


National Institutes of Health (R35 NS116858)

  • Jeremy Dasen

National Institutes of Health (R01 NS097550)

  • Jeremy Dasen

National Institutes of Health (T32 NS086750)

  • Maggie M Shin

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


Animal experimentation: This study was performed in strict accordance with the recommendations in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals of the National Institutes of Health. All of the animals were handled according to an approved institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC) protocol (IA16-00045) of the NYU School of Medicine.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Joseph G Gleeson, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, The Rockefeller University, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: February 25, 2020
  2. Accepted: August 17, 2020
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: August 18, 2020 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: September 2, 2020 (version 2)


© 2020, Shin et al.

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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