The trunk neural crest of vertebrate embryos gives rise to dorsal root ganglion (DRG) sensory neurons and autonomic sympathetic neurons, among other derivatives. We have examined the development of DRG and sympathetic neurons during development in the zebrafish. We found that sensory neurons differentiate rapidly and that their overt neuronal differentiation significantly precedes that of sympathetic neurons in the trunk. Sympathetic neurons in different regions differentiate at different times. The most rostral population, which we call the cervical ganglion, differentiates several days before trunk sympathetic neurons. After undergoing overt neuronal differentiation, sympathetic neurons subsequently express the adrenergic differentiation markers dopamine beta-hydroxylase and tyrosine hydroxylase. A second population of adrenergic nonneuronal cells initially localized with cervical sympathetic neurons appears to represent adrenal chromaffin cells. In more mature fish, these cells were present in clusters within the kidneys. Individual DRG and sympathetic ganglia initially contain few neurons. However, the number of neurons in DRG and sympathetic ganglia increases continuously at least up to 4 weeks of age. Analysis of phosphohistone H3 expression and bromodeoxyuridine incorporation studies suggests that the increases in DRG and sympathetic ganglion neuronal cell number are due wholly or in part to the division of neuronal cells within the ganglia.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.