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Curr Biol 2019 Jun 03;2911:1787-1799.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.04.072.
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Growth at Cold Temperature Increases the Number of Motor Neurons to Optimize Locomotor Function.

Spencer KA , Belgacem YH , Visina O , Shim S , Genus H , Borodinsky LN .

During vertebrate development, spinal neurons differentiate and connect to generate a system that performs sensorimotor functions critical for survival. Spontaneous Ca2+ activity regulates different aspects of spinal neuron differentiation. It is unclear whether environmental factors can modulate this Ca2+ activity in developing spinal neurons to alter their specialization and ultimately adjust sensorimotor behavior to fit the environment. Here, we show that growing Xenopus laevis embryos at cold temperatures results in an increase in the number of spinal motor neurons in larvae. This change in spinal cord development optimizes the escape response to gentle touch of animals raised in and tested at cold temperatures. The cold-sensitive channel TRPM8 increases Ca2+ spike frequency of developing ventral spinal neurons, which in turn regulates expression of the motor neuron master transcription factor HB9. TRPM8 is necessary for the increase in motor neuron number of animals raised in cold temperatures and for their enhanced sensorimotor behavior when tested at cold temperatures. These findings suggest the environment modulates neuronal differentiation to optimize the behavior of the developing organism.

PubMed ID: 31130453
PMC ID: PMC7501754
Article link: Curr Biol
Grant support: [+]

Species referenced: Xenopus laevis
Genes referenced: mnx1 ncam1 odc1 trpm8
Antibodies: B3gat1 Ab5 Mnx1 Ab1 Ncam1 Ab1 Neuronal Ab4 Trpm8 Ab1 Tubb Ab1
Morpholinos: trpm8 MO1 trpm8 MO2 trpm8 MO3

Article Images: [+] show captions
References [+] :
Angilletta, Temperature, growth rate, and body size in ectotherms: fitting pieces of a life-history puzzle. 2004, Pubmed