Spinal cholinergic neurons are critical for motor function in both the autonomic and somatic nervous systems and are affected in spinal cord injury and in diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and spinal muscular atrophy. Using two screening approaches and in situ hybridization, we identified 159 genes expressed in typical cholinergic patterns in the spinal cord. These include two general cholinergic neuron markers, one gene exclusively expressed in motor neurons, and nine genes expressed in unknown subtypes of somatic motor neurons. Further, we present evidence that chondrolectin (Chodl) is expressed by fast motor neurons and that estrogen-related receptor beta (ERRbeta) is a candidate marker for slow motor neurons. In addition, we suggest paired-like homeodomain transcription factor 2 (Pitx2) as a marker for cholinergic partition cells.
Copyright 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.