Cell reports

Roof Plate-Derived Radial Glial-like Cells Support Developmental Growth of Rapidly Adapting Mechanoreceptor Ascending Axons.

PMID 29874580


Spinal cord longitudinal axons comprise some of the longest axons in our body. However, mechanisms that drive this extra long-distance axonal growth are largely unclear. We found that ascending axons of rapidly adapting (RA) mechanoreceptors closely abut a previously undescribed population of roof plate-derived radial glial-like cells (RGLCs) in the spinal cord dorsal column, which form a network of processes enriched with growth-promoting factors. In dreher mutant mice that lack RGLCs, the lengths of ascending RA mechanoreceptor axon branches are specifically reduced, whereas their descending and collateral branches, and other dorsal column and sensory pathways, are largely unaffected. Because the number and intrinsic growth ability of RA mechanoreceptors are normal in dreher mice, our data suggest that RGLCs provide critical non-cell autonomous growth support for the ascending axons of RA mechanoreceptors. Together, our work identifies a developmental mechanism specifically required for long-range spinal cord longitudinal axons.