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PloS one

A Phox2b BAC Transgenic Rat Line Useful for Understanding Respiratory Rhythm Generator Neural Circuitry.


PMID 26147470

Abstract

The key role of the respiratory neural center is respiratory rhythm generation to maintain homeostasis through the control of arterial blood pCO2/pH and pO2 levels. The neuronal network responsible for respiratory rhythm generation in neonatal rat resides in the ventral side of the medulla and is composed of two groups; the parafacial respiratory group (pFRG) and the pre-Bötzinger complex group (preBötC). The pFRG partially overlaps in the retrotrapezoid nucleus (RTN), which was originally identified in adult cats and rats. Part of the pre-inspiratory (Pre-I) neurons in the RTN/pFRG serves as central chemoreceptor neurons and the CO2 sensitive Pre-I neurons express homeobox gene Phox2b. Phox2b encodes a transcription factor and is essential for the development of the sensory-motor visceral circuits. Mutations in human PHOX2B cause congenital hypoventilation syndrome, which is characterized by blunted ventilatory response to hypercapnia. Here we describe the generation of a novel transgenic (Tg) rat harboring fluorescently labeled Pre-I neurons in the RTN/pFRG. In addition, the Tg rat showed fluorescent signals in autonomic enteric neurons and carotid bodies. Because the Tg rat expresses inducible Cre recombinase in PHOX2B-positive cells during development, it is a potentially powerful tool for dissecting the entire picture of the respiratory neural network during development and for identifying the CO2/O2 sensor molecules in the adult central and peripheral nervous systems.